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European Union law

European Union law has an impact on almost every legal field, whether through the transposition of Directives or through its direct application in a number of specific domains where it is used side by side with national law, such as in Competition law.

However, European Union law is, first and foremost, an autonomous network with the specific objective of European construction, initiated with the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, which then became the European Community (EC) following the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. Today, with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009, the European Community (EC) has become the European Union (UE), with much more ambitious political goals than the economic objectives of 1957. Community law has therefore evolved into the more accomplished European Union law.

Beyond these important evolutions, the heart of the European construction is still focused on the “four freedoms” which are the foundation of the internal market and which remain directly applicable in many situations because of the primacy of European Union law over domestic law:

  • Free movement of persons and its counterpart the right of establishment
  • Freedom to provide services
  • Free movement of capital
  • Free movement of goods

European Union law also comprises:

  • Common policies (such as the Common Agricultural Policy)
  • Rules supervising competition between Member States through a framework for State Aids
  • The development, implementation and coordination of collective strategic programs to meet the new challenges facing society (such as the "Green Deal" in response to environmental issues and the program to promote digital innovations)
  • A bill of rights with the 2007 adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, integrated into the Treaty in 2009 and, more globally, interactions between European Union law and the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR)
  • A specific judicial body, with the Court of Justice of the European Union.

With offices in Paris and Brussels since 1988, COUTRELIS & ASSOCIES is particularly competent and close to all matters specifically related to European Union law. Our attorneys have all studied specifically European Union law and are well versed to its particular mechanisms. Before joining the firm, most of them have been largely exposed to European issues from the inside within the French administration (in Paris and in Brussels at the Permanent French Representation to the EEC) as well as within the European Commission (Directorate-General for Competition, and the Legal Service).

Our firm's lawyers have particularly extensive experience in European Union litigation before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, in addition to the numerous cases brought before domestic tribunals in which fundamental principles of European Union law are often critical.

Using this expertise, COUTRELIS & ASSOCIES is able to tailor its overall strategies, negotiations as well as lobbying and litigation actions to fit the client’s needs, at the precise moment they need to be dealt with.

Members of the firm are frequently published on European Union law issues.

Legal expertise

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