6 ECTS credits
150 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 6016810FNR for all students in the 1st semester at a (F) Master - specialised level.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Taught in
Faculty of Law and Criminology
International and European Law
Educational team
Youri DEVUYST (course titular)
Activities and contact hours
39 contact hours Lecture
Course Content

This course consists of two Parts:

- Part I: EU Institutional Framework

- Part II: EU Judicial Protection



The focus of the course is on the following questions:

- Why did the European Union emerge and how did it evolve into its current form?

- What is the division of competences between the European Union and its Member States?

- How does the European Union take its decisions and shape its policies?

- What legal format do European Union decisions take?

To provide an answer to these questions, the course is divided in four key sections. 

- The first section focuses on the historical origins and development of European integration from 1945 to the present. It examines the creation of the OEEC/OECD and the Council of Europe, the origins of the European Communities in the 1950s and their evolution in membership (from 6 to 28 Member States and beyond) and in treaty-basis (from the European Coal and Steel Community to the Treaty of Lisbon).

- The second section is devoted to the complex division of competences between the EU and its Member States (exclusive powers; shared powers; supporting, coordinating and complementary powers).

- The third section discusses the EU’s institutional framework. Attention goes to the composition, powers, decision-making and functioning of the EU’s main political institutions and bodies (European Council; European Commission; Council of Ministers; European Parliament) and the inter-institutional relations between them. 

- The fourth section concerns the outcome of the decision-making process. It involves an analysis of the EU’s legal acts (regulations, directives, decisions, delegated acts and implementing acts). 

The course is approached in an interdisciplinary manner: insights from history, politics and economics are essential for the understanding of European legal/institutional integration. The comparison between the intergovernmental and supranational features of the European integration process is a central theme running through the course. Since this course is designed to lay the foundations for more specialized teaching, the lectures are held at the start of the academic year. 


Throughout the course, an active use will be made of the EU's primary law (i.e. EU Treaties) and secondary law (i.e. EU regulations, directives and decisions). Students shall be guided through such texts with a view of gaining the ability to read and interpret them.



This part of the course  comprises four parts:

The first part will explore the structure of the judicial machinery in the European Union (Union courts, the primary role played national courts). It will also dress an overall picture of the collaboration between the national courts and the EU Court of Justice, by defining the basic features of the reference for a preliminary ruling (article 267 TFEU) and by reviewing the influence of Union law on national procedural rules.

The second part will review how Union law is enforced against Member States. It will deal with the action for infringement of Union law (article 258 TFEU) and discuss the reference for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Union law in view of the fact that the national courts use that procedure to test the comptability of national legal provisions with Union law.

The third part will deal with the juducial protection against unlawful action by the European Union institutions. It will discuss the action for annulment (article 263 TFEU), the action for failure to act (article 265 TFEU) and the claim for damages (articles 268 and 340 TFEU), and will discuss the reference for a preliminary ruling on the validity of acts of the EU institutions where the applicant can not bring a direct action (article 267 TFEU).

The final part will briefly deal with some special procedures (proceedings for intern measures (article 278 TFEU) and appeal (article 256 TFEU) and explore the specific procedural requirements of lodging and pleading an action before the General Court and the EU Court of Justice.

Course material
Handbook (Recommended) : A Guide to European Union Law, P.S.R.F. Mathijsen, 10, Sweet & Maxwell, 9780421947009, 2006
Handbook (Recommended) : Procedural Law of the European Union, Text, Cases, and Materials, Lenaerts, Arts & Bray, 2, Sweet & Maxwell, 9780199576999, 2011
Course text (Required) : The EU Institutional Framework and Judicial Protection
Additional info


- Students take note during the lectures. No powerpoints are used (as they tend to prevent interactivity, on the spot adaptation of the course content and explanation through current events evolutions). Students are actively encouraged to bring up points for discussion or for further explanation.

- A reader with essential readings is distributed at the start of the academic year.

- Recommended handbook: Paul Craig & Grainne de Burca, EU Law: Text, Cases.



Study materials are distributed at the beginning of the course.

Materials + readers edited by Prof. Arts + Book : ‘Procedural Law of the European Union’ by Lenaerts,  Arts and  Bray (ed.)

Learning Outcomes

Algemene competenties


Part I of the course aims to provide incoming law students (arriving from all over the world) with a solid understanding of the European Union in general and its decision-making system in particular.

- Following the course students should have acquired the necessary knowledge and skills to analyze independently and contribute actively to EU decision-making.


- Students gain insight in the history, decision-making and (external) policies of the European Union and acquire the knowledge and skills to understand and interpret past evolutions and current events shaping the European construction in a multidisciplinary manner (thanks to the input from history, economics, law and politics).

- Students acquire the technical ability to read and understand the EU's primary law and secondary law texts.

- As the course is taught in the English language, students acquire the knowledge and skill to understanding and use the specialised vocabulary on EU institutional law in the English language.



In Part II of the course, the students will learn about

The students will learn about

-       the institutional setup of judicial protection in the EU, also in connection with the nation state level

-       the procedural rules of the EU (in particular the preliminary rulings) and their influence on Member states

-       the means to enforce EU law against Member states (e.g. actions for infringement)

-       the judicial protections against unlawful actions by Union institutions

-       the procedural requirements of lodging and pleading an action before the European Union Courts.

-       the special procedures and appeal.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Written Exam determines 67% of the final mark.
Other Exam determines 33% of the final mark.

Within the Written Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Examen Schriftelijk with a relative weight of 67 which comprises 67% of the final mark.

    Note: Examples of exam questions for Part I:
    - Discuss the legal process of EU treaty-change.
    - Define the EU's exclusive powers.
    - What are the institutional innovations of the Single European Act?
    - What are the changes made by the Treaty of Lisbon to the European Council?
    - What are the legal functions of the European Commission?

Within the Other Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • 2ede Examen Schiftelijk with a relative weight of 33 which comprises 33% of the final mark.

Additional info regarding evaluation


The assessment of Part I puts the focus on factual knowledge on EU history, EU competence division, EU institutional law and decision-making and EU legal instruments. The exam is written. Examples of exam questions:

- Discuss the legal process of EU treaty-change.

- Define the EU's exclusive powers.

- What are the institutional innovations of the Single European Act?

- What are the changes made by the Treaty of Lisbon to the European Council?

- What are the legal functions of the European Commission?

- What are the differences between delegated and implementing acts?



Written examination, (without oral retake).

Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Master of International and European Law: Standaard traject