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The Legal Foundations of the European Union


The Legal Foundations of the European Union
This intensive course is intended to provide students with a good introduction into the constitutional, institutional and administrative law of the European Union (EU), as well as into the relationship of this law with the national law of the EU Member States. The following subjects are considered: the development of the EU into its present form as a very special international organisation, the nature of EU law, its core constitutional principles, the EU institutions, the making of secondary law and judicial protection of rights.
One of the main aims of the course is to familiarize the students with the primary materials of European Union Law (texts of Treaties, secondary legislation and case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, CJEU), in order to prepare them for the specialized courses of the second semester.
Integrated into the course are aspects of the European Law Moot Court (ELMC) competition in which students simulate a case before the CJEU. All students must deal with selected aspects of the ELMC case for the purposes of the Legal Foundations course. At the same time, it is open to students to opt for full participation in the international ELMC competition. With its combination of intense research, written and oral submissions, the ELMC in many ways resembles a Privatissimum, i.e. a class characterized by its particularly intensive teaching method. In past years, this very prestigious international competition has proven to be a particularly important tool for postgraduate instruction.


Europa Institute Steenschuur 25 2311 ES Leiden Phone: 071-527 7760 Website: Sheena Bruce, Phone: +31 (0)71 527 7821

**Lecturer(s): **
Prof. Christa Tobler - Course Coordinator, Prof. Armin Cuyvers and Veronika Yefremova LL.M.

Course Objectives:

Objectives of the course:
The objective of this course is to provide students with sufficient knowledge to be able to appreciate, from a legal point of view, the special nature of the EU as an international organisation and to understand its manner of working.

Achievement levels:
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
Knowledge and comprehension: At the end of this course, students will be able to outline the development of the European Union as an international organisation; discuss the special nature of EU law as compared to more traditional international law; identify the constitutional principles and rules of the EU, including those relating to the procedures for the making of secondary EU law and the protection of individual rights under EU law.
Application: At the end of this course, students will be able to explain the legal foundations of the European Union; present CJEU decisions on constitutional and procedural matters and critically discuss them; argue practical cases relating to such matters.
Analysis: At the end of this course, students will be motivated to place day-to-day political developments relating to the EU in a legal context and to reflect critically on such developments.
Presentation: At the end of this course, the students will be able to make oral presentations and write papers on the issues covered.

Mode of Instruction:
Seminars based on the Socratic method, i.e., question and answer model, with active participation of the students.

Assessment Method(s):

  • 25 % written paper (including selected aspects of the European Law Moot Court competition) or, alternatively, full participation in the ELCM competition;

  • 75 % written examination.
    Oral participation, including the presentation of CJEU case law in class, is taken into account in order to round a grade where appropriate.
    Where a student achieves a non-passing grade for the paper, the paper must in any case be revised.

Reading List:

  • The EU Treaty (TEU), the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and selected secondary legislation. It is recommended that students buy the following student text, which includes the text not only of the Treaties but also of the most important secondary EU legislation, much of which we shall be considering in some detail: Nigel G. Foster (ed.), Blackstone's EU Treaties & Legislation, Oxford: Oxford University Press [most recent edition].

  • A textbook on EU law. Students may find various textbooks in the Law School library. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend that students buy the following textbook, which is excellent: Paul Craig & Grainne De Búrca: EU Law: Text, Cases and Materials, 7th edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2020.

  • In addition, the following books will be used: Christa Tobler & Jacques Beglinger, Essential EU Law in Charts and Text (2 volumes), 5th edition, Budapest: HVG-Orac 2020.

We will actively use the Charts in the class meetings. The text companion may serve as very simple background reading, especially for students who are not yet very familiar with EU internal market law. It also contains exercises.

Specific required and optional reading will be indicated in the course reader to be found in the Law Faculty’s electronic learning environment.

Bright Space
Additional reading (CJEU case law etc.) will be indicated in the course reader and in the electronic learning environment, Bright Space.

Course requirements

Master degree


Sheena Bruce, Phone: +31 (0)71 527 7821

**Disclaimer: **
Currently these pages are being updated to reflect the courses for 2023 - 2024. Until these pages are fixed as per 1 September 2023 no rights can be claimed from the information which is currently contained within. Should there be any future extenuating circumstances which may impinge our teaching and assessment, these could necessitate modification of the course descriptions after 1 September. This will only happen in the event of strict necessity and the interests of the students will be taken into account. Should there be a need for any change during the course, this will be informed to all students on a timely basis. Modifications after 1 September 2023 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board and Programme Director.