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European Union Legislation in Wales

This page has information on matters relating to European Union (EU) legislation in Wales.

EU legislation takes precedence over any form of domestic law and any conflicting domestic law must be set aside.

There are 3 types of EU legislation:

  • Regulations (binding and applicable throughout the EU);
  • Directives (binding but Member States have a certain amount of discretion when interpreting into domestic law).
  • Decisions (binding upon the Member State or individual to whom they are addressed).

Member States are obliged to give effect to (“transpose”) EU legislation in the domestic legal system. This obligation arises most commonly in relation to directives.

EU Law in Wales

The Government of Wales Act 2006 gives the Welsh Assembly Government authority to implement EU law for Wales where the subject matter of the new piece of legislation falls within or affects a devolved policy area.

This is consistent with the European Union principle of Subsidiary which requires that decisions are to be taken as closely as possible to the citizen.  The Act also prevents Welsh Ministers from acting in a manner or making legislation which is contrary to such obligations and/or Community law.


Non-compliance with EU legislation can lead to fines. They arise most commonly from improper implementation, failure to implement or inadequate enforcement of an EU law. It is the responsibility of the European Commission to bring legal proceedings against a member state which it considers to have breached its obligations under EU law; this process is known as ‘infraction’ proceedings. It is for the Court of Justice of the European Union to decide whether it agrees that a breach has indeed occurred and what the consequences of the breach will be.

For further information on any matters relating to European legislation please contact European and External Affairs Division at