Implementing directive

This legally binding act of the European Union establishes a set of objectives which all member states of the European Union must fulfil. The member states are free to choose the manner they see fit to fulfil the required objectives.

Implementing directives are, however, bound by strict limits as implementing acts are meant to further the implementation of existing legal acts and the mandate within which implementing acts are issued tend to be narrowly defined.


Implementing directive in detail

Area of application

Implementing directives need to be transposed into national legislation and as such, have no direct effect. Contrary to directives i, implementing directives do not give member states much room for interpretation as the objectives of an implementing directive are narrowly set within the framework of the legislation it aims to further implement. As a rule implementing acts are laid down in implementing regulations i and implementing decisions i as these are better suited to work out the details of EU legislation and to ensure more uniform implementation of these acts.

Implementing directives can only be issued when European legislation stipulates further measures are called for to ensure proper implementation of said legislation by the member states. As such implementing directives always address detailed and often highly technical issues that carry little political weight.

Legal entities cannot make direct appeals to implementing directives in a court of law. However, private parties can invoke implementing directives when national governments failed to adhere to the deadline for transposing an implementing directive and that states' current legislation conflicts with the goals set out in the implementing directive.

Adopting implementing directives

The EU has two procedures by means of which implementing directives can be established. In both procedures the Commission initiates and ultimately decides on implementing directives. A committee of representatives of the member states can either advise on or has to approve of implementing directives.

Implementing directives in the field of common foreign and defence policy are initiated and decided upon by the Council.


Legal framework

The implementing regulation is based on the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TfEU).

  • instrument: part six TfEU title 1 chapter 2 section 1 art. 291


Further information