Acquis communautaire

(Photo: European Commission)

Acquis communautaire

Acquis Commaunautaire is a very important concept in the European Union. It covers all treaties, legislation, international agreements, standards, court verdicts, fundamental rights and horisontal principles in the treaties as equality and non-discrimination. In short: EU-law.

All member states and their citizens must obey the Acquis and all candidate countries must accept the full Acquis to become a member of the European Union. The complete body of the EU Acquis is composed of more than 108,000 documents.

There is no official number of valid legal acts. The full picture may only be assembled by different pieces of information from different sources. We have done that partly and you can see the result under Number of laws.

The full Acquis is difficult to define. It can be described as the total body of European Union law applicable in the EU. It is constantly evolving and comprises:   

·        The content, principles and political objectives of the Treaties 

·        Legislation adopted pursuant to the Treaties and the case law of the Court of Justice 

·        Standards adopted and referred to in EU legislation and international agreements

·        Declarations and resolutions adopted by the Union

·        Instruments under the Common Foreign and Security Policy 

·        Instruments under Justice and Home affairs

·        International agreements concluded by the Community and those entered into by the member states themselves within the sphere of the Union's activities. 


Thus, it includes all treaties, all legislation valid today, all EU Court verdicts, all types of decisions from the Foreign and Security Policy and Justice and Home affairs, as well as so-called soft law.   

The Acquis Commaunautaire is translated into the official languages of the European Union.

The concept of the Acquis Commaunautaire includes the primacy of EU law and all other principles developed by the Court of Justice, partly through the Court's legal activism. Member states are also bound to accept future majority decisions and future verdicts from the EU Court.   

The primacy of EU law was declared in the rejected EU Constitution Article I-6. This article was deleted in the Lisbon Treaty. Instead, it was inserted as a footnote with the same content and with a specific reference to the Court verdicts establishing the primacy of EU law. It can now be found in Declaration Number 17 attached to the Lisbon Treaty.  

Adoption and implementation of the Acquis are the basis of the accession negotiations. This principle is included in the Lisbon Treaty. The different areas for which reforms are needed in order to meet the accession conditions are called "chapters of the Acquis".   

The candidate countries are required to adapt their administrative and institutional infrastructures and to bring their national legislation in line with Community legislation in the areas of the different chapters. These are reviewed during the screening of the acquis and are evaluated regularly up until the time each chapter is closed.   

The Acquis concept is crucial to understanding the EU and the enlargement and constitutional processes.