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EU Competencies

Competence means the areas that the EU has gained the power to regulate, not necessarily that they are competent at doing so. There are degrees of competency as explained below:

Exclusive Competence

“The Union has exclusive competence to make directives and conclude international agreements when provided for in a Union legislative act.”

  • The customs union
  • The establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market
  • Monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro.
  • The conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy
  • Common commercial policy
  • Conclusion of certain international agreements

This means that member states have no jurisdiction over any of the above matters

Shared competence

“Member States cannot exercise competence in areas where the Union has done so.”

  • the internal market
  • social policy, for the aspects defined in this Treaty
  • economic, social and territorial cohesion
  • agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources
  • environment
  • consumer protection
  • transport
  • trans-European networks
  • energy
  • the area of freedom, security and justice
  • common safety concerns in public health matters, for the aspects defined in this Treaty

“Union exercise of competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs in:”

  • research, technological development and space
  • development cooperation, humanitarian aid


“The Union coordinates Member States policies or implements supplemental to theirs common policies, not covered elsewhere”

  • coordination of economic, employment and social policies
  • common foreign, security and defence policies

Supporting Competence

“The Union can carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement Member States’ actions in:”

  • the protection and improvement of human health
  • industry
  • culture
  • tourism
  • education, youth, sport and vocational training
  • civil protection (disaster prevention)
  • administrative cooperation

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