The legal system that exists between the member states within the European Union is known as Community law, which distinguishes it from international law generally. The major source of Community legislation is secondary legislation, of which there are four categories: regulations; directives; decisions; and opinions and recommendations of the Court of Justice.
- Regulations are Community laws adopted by the Council of the European Union upon a proposal from the Commission. Regulations have general effect and are directly applicable in all of the Member States.
- Directives are Community laws adopted by the Council of the European Union upon a proposal from the Commission. Directives are addressed to the Member States and are binding as to the result; Member States may choose the form and methods of implementation. The process of implementation is called harmonization.
- Decisions are Community laws issued by the Council or Commission which are binding on those addressed, whether governments, companies or individuals.
- Opinions are written statements by the Council or Commission and have no binding force. Opinions are an important indication of Council and Commission policy. Recommendations adopted by the Commission are like directives in that they are binding only on the Member States cited and only with respect to the end result.