An explanation of the doctrine of supremacy of EU law and how it affects national laws.
What is ‘Supremacy of the EU Law’?
The doctrine of Supremacy is not mentioned anywhere in the Treaty of Lisbon 2009. However, the Court of Justice has considered such doctrine to be implied in the Treaty (Fairhust, 2010). The doctrine of supremacy provides that any national law measure that conflicts with EU law must be set aside insofar as they conflict. It has to be noted that such measures that are conflicting are not rendered void, nor is a Member State required to repeal any piece of national legislation that conflicts with EU law; the doctrine merely entails that where a choice has to be made between applying EU law or a conflicting provision of national law, then EU law takes precedence and is to be applied.
The doctrine of supremacy has its limits and it is not a wide-reaching principle. This is due to EU law operating on the principle of subsidiarity and limited competence. This effectively means that the EU can only legislate in areas where it has been specifically granted authority to do so (Fairhust, 2010). Therefore, the operation of the doctrine of supremacy does not trump national law in every respect. EU law competencies provisions, for instance, can be found in Articles 3 and 4 of the TFEU, which discuss exclusive and shared competences, and in other Articles.
Treaty of Lisbon 2009
Fairhust M., (2010) Law of the European Union. 8th Ed., Pearson Longman