Harmonisation of Law in the European UnionThe European Union was founded on the basis of the Treaty on European Union (the Maastricht treaty), and consists of European countries. In order to bring into existence a single Market, there is a vital need to standardise the EU Law. This process is termed as Harmonization. The European Union is committed to engendering legal unity. It aims to achieve this objective by the harmonisation of many areas of law, such as contract law, criminal law and family law. Efforts to establish The Common European Code of Private Law (“The Common Frame of Reference on the Principles of European Contract Law”) were made in the 1980s.
This exercise was emulated, in engendering the Commission for European Family Law, in 2001. The chief aim behind these initiatives was to harmonise family law in the Member States and establish a universal set of principles for European Family Law. All the same, the ECJ had already made several endeavours, by means of its case law to create European Family Law. In the Nordic countries, two important harmonisation processes had transpired.
The first was during the period from 1909 to 1929, when efforts were undertaken to establish the Nordic Model of Marriage; and the second, in the late 1990s, when amendments and adjustments were made to this Nordic Model, in order to take into account the changes that had taken place in some countries. The provisions of international private law, proved to be of immense help in dealing with the problem posed by increasing immigration. The Nordic Member States and the rest of the EU, accordingly, spared no effort, in effecting the harmonisation of private international law.
The free movement of workers and their families is significantly affected by the harmonisation of family laws. The latter have acquired importance, due to the Lisbon Strategy and the Roadmap for Equality; which are seized with improving labour force participation. With the advent of the European Economic Community in 1957, there has been a concentrated effort to unify the European nations. The European Union, which was the culmination of these initiatives, has provided a law that is to reign supreme in all the Members States.
What commenced as an endeavour to implement a common economic market system, has now emerged into a complex organisation that controls a significant number of economic and political areas. The EU has over a period of time, emerged as a constitutional system. Its law has direct effect upon domestic legislation, or in other words, EC Law has supremacy over national laws. The influence of EC Law on domestic law is not superficial; and a large amount of legislation has been developed in EC Law, in the areas of business law, consumer law, contract law, immigration law, and labour law.
EC law has supremacy over the national legislation of the Member States. Such dominance is derived from a complex legal process, which is not stated, explicitly in the founding treaties. There are certain general principles of Community Law that have brought about this supremacy. One of these is the principle of direct effect of EU Law, which was established by the ECJ in the Van Gend en Loos case. This doctrine requires national judges to adopt the EU Law.