Monday 26 April 2010

Comments on UK House of Commons Library Note SN/IA/3689

The Grahnlaw blog post EU materials: European Union terminology, procedures and sources 2010 (26 April 2010) recommended:

UK House of Commons Library Note: The European Union: a guide to terminology, procedures and sources (Standard Note SN/IA/3689; last updated 24 March 2010; 14 pages; authors Vaughne Miller and Emma Clark)

The authors - Vaughne Miller and Emma Clark - are available to discuss the content of this briefing with Members and their staff, but not with the general public, but this does not prevent me from discussing the Standard Note with the authors, by the means of this blog post.

Although the comments I make are personal and the preferences I mention are matters of (idiosyncratic) taste, some of the following might serve the next update of the Library Note.

Lisbon Treaty

The Library Note was published about a week before the latest consolidated version of the Treaty of Lisbon, so the rectified version was not available at the time. The Lisbon Treaty is presented in a readable and updated format, more officially:

Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; OJEU 30.3.2010 C 83.

Since we are only months away from the entry into force, I find the “Lisbon Treaty” to be a convenient shorthand expression for the current state of primary EU law. This may change with the next accession treaty or at least the next substantial treaty reform, so the terms “EU law” and “EU Treaties” employed by the authors are not only correct, but more timeless.

When we need to be more specific, we can refer to the individual treaties:

Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), or the

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)

EU Charter

The United Kingdom may have opted out, but at least the debate in English needs the latest version of the:

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; OJEU 30.3.2010 C 83/389


Luckily, we now have a readable version of the Euratom or EAEC Treaty:

Consolidated version of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community; OJEU 30.3.2010 C 84

Member State

The authors discuss the use or not of capital letters.

Generally, I know that I shift not only from day to day, but often within the same blog post.

With regard to “member states” I prefer to write without capital letters, unless I quote EU documents, but this is only a matter of personal taste.

The European Council

The European Council, with the heads of state or government, is chaired by the President of the European Council, so part of the paragraph is outdated under the Lisbon Treaty.

The European Council does not exercise legislative functions, but it makes certain decisions based on the treaties (Article 15 TEU et al).

The Council of the European Union

There are now two Council formations (configurations) directly based on the TEU: the General Affairs Council (GAC) and the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) (Article 16 TEU).

The other Council configurations are adopted by the European Council (Articles 16 TEU, 236 TFEU; List of Council configurations, in OJEU 11.12.2009 L 325/51).


The ordinary legislative procedure leads to legislative acts adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

Then there are special legislative procedures (mainly Council legislation).

Commission legal acts are mainly delegated (implementing) acts.

Official Journal

Since the world is full of ‘Official Journals’, I prefer to use the abbreviation OJEU for the Official Journal of the European Union.

The same goes for the Court of Justice of the European Union, and here the authors use the abbreviation CJEU, as I do.


The comments may be exhausting, but they are not exhaustive. They are based on a brief tour of this Library Note, but I did not check all the questions.

Perhaps others can fill in, to make the next update even better(?)

Ralf Grahn

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