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Towards a Hierarchy of Legal Acts in the European Union? Simplification of Legal Instruments and Procedures

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A remarkable feature of the Union's legal order is the absence of a genuine hierarchy of legal acts—a pre-established ranking of different types of legal acts in accordance with the democratic legitimacy of their respective authors and adoption procedures, which is used as a means to resolve conflicts among these different types of legal acts. There is however a clear suggestion of such hierarchy in the sequence in which the newly created legal instruments are listed in Article I-33(1) and in the organisation of the subsequent Articles I-34 to I-37 of the European Constitution. In this contribution, the (lost) logic behind the Union's current set of legal instruments is analysed, followed by an examination of the reform of the system of legal instruments carried out in the European Constitution. Lastly, an attempt is made to answer the question as to whether this reform amounts to the establishment of a genuine hierarchy of legal acts in the Union.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-11-01

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