Implementing Supranational Legislation

International organizations, such as the European Union, legislate for their members. Additionally, treaties such as the TPP or NAFTA/USMCA are supranational legislation between two or more states. Nationalizing these global, foreign, or international laws requires national implementing measures. Some political thinkers in the United States view these same principles as a Federalist position concerning the national government vis a vis the state and local governments.

The EU As An Example

The European Union requires that member states fully adhere to its policies. This impact is one of the stated reasons for the Brexit decision by the United Kingdom, as it is an express subrogation of national sovereignty. In the case of the EU, there is a transposition process- the implementation of EU regulation at the national level. Because the EU and its courts are active in lawmaking, the process is continuous and complex.

The process of transposition requires that the EU policy, law, or court finding be transposed into a national legislative instrument capable of effectively implementing the legal requirements of the EU text. While the principle of autonomy allows member states to choose the method by which this is achieved, the requirement remains that it must be achieved.

EU law has several principles or tests extending to all member states as well as the organization generally – including:

  • Subsidiarity – the highest level of action is justifiable only when lower levels of regulation are inefficient in achieving the goal.
    • Regulatory – economy of approaches
    • Legislative – economy of measures
  • Proportionality – the level of regulation reflects the effect or aim to be achieved.
  • Adequacy – the means chosen for transposition produces the required regulatory results.
  • Synergy – use a holistic approach to the law and legal system by promoting coherence within the national legal framework.
  • Adaptability – allows flexibility in choosing the appropriate instrument to implement the law.

The normative level of implementing measures is based on

  • The extent of legislative intervention – repeal of existing conflicting laws, implementing corresponding supporting laws, following a five-pronged EU test for compliance. It may be a repeal and replacement, delegated legislation, administrative implementation, or other methods to ensure compliance.
  • The type of EU instrument –
    • The constituting treaties require inclusion in national constitutions or constitutional principles.
    • Regulations do not generally require transposition. However, they must be evaluated in light of existing national legislation, and any significant differences must be reconciled via alteration, substitution,  reference, or incorporation.
    • Directives require complete application in fact and law. In the absence of national regulation, or the case of conflict, the directive requires complete transposition.
    • Decisions are transposed via delegated legislation or administrative acts
    • Recommendations and Opinions require no transposition
    • Judgments of EU Courts – binding on all member states and must be included in implementing measures
  • The object of the implementing measure –
    • National legal custom may dictate the type or form of legal regulation
    • Minor transposition items may be included in secondary legislation or rulemaking
    • Areas of increased significance will be addressed by primary legislation
    • Technical drafting approaches are needed to ensure compliance and approach to making the regulation properly binding

Quality of Legislation – EU Rules

The EU defines legislative quality as the quality of substance and the quality of form. Substance refers to legislative policy and looks at subsidiarity and proportionality, choice of instrument, duration, instrument intensity, consistency, cost/benefit analysis, and impact analysis. Quality of form concerns accessibility and transparency, and dissemination.

EU drafting rules break into three categories:

  • Substance- must be essential and effective means of achieving the aim of the law. It must be proportional to the aim to be achieved and consistent with existing EU legislation. It must consider transposition, translation, and the users’ needs.
  • Process – the EU must respect the principle of subsidiarity and leave it to member states to regulate those best handled at the national level. The drafting process must be open and transparent. The process must be planned and coordinated. The planned legislation must be subject to cost analysis, and enacted laws must be monitored and evaluated.
  • Technical – EU laws must be clear, unambiguous, and straightforward. Plain language must be used.

National legislative measures must also follow these same principles in drafting their national implementing measures.

Implementing International Agreements and Treaties

treaties are agreements between two or more states. There is a need for the drafter of implementing legislation to evoke specific quality legislation from generally vague political statements. As opposed to MOUs, treaties are ratified by the state and bear the weight of the law. Their entry into force is governed by the treaty or the Vienna Convention Article 24(2).

The Vienna Convention is the international law governing treaties. In the US, we have a dualistic approach, where a second step following ratification is required, and national implementing legislation accompanies the treaty. There are generally four methods of implementation:

  1. Parallel legislation implementing but not referring to the agreement
  2. Reference to the agreement via the substantive provision
  3. Scheduling for information only
  4. Scheduling with the force of law

The drafter must use the treaty as a set of drafting instructions and determine how to bring the desired policy into effect best. The drafting team for the implementing regulation should include the negotiators, policymakers, and legal/drafting teams.

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