European Union (Withdrawal) Bill [HL]

Explanatory Notes

Annex B – Glossary



Act of Parliament

An Act of Parliament is a law that both Houses of Parliament have agreed to, and which is enforced in all the areas of the UK where it is applicable.

Affirmative procedure

Under the affirmative procedure a statutory instrument must be approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords to become law. There are two sub-categories of the affirmative procedure in this Bill. Under the draft affirmative procedure, the statutory instrument cannot be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by both Houses. Under the made affirmative procedure, the statutory instrument can be made and come into force before it is debated, but cannot remain in force unless approved by both Houses within one month.


A proposal for a new law or an amendment to an existing law that has been presented to Parliament for consideration. Once agreed and made into law, it becomes an Act.

Charter of Fundamental Rights

The Charter of Fundamental Rights sets out ‘EU fundamental rights’ which is a term used to describe human rights as they are recognised in EU law. EU fundamental rights are general principles of EU law which have been recognised over time through the case law of the CJEU and which have been codified in the Charter which came into force in 2009. The Charter sets out 50 rights and principles, many of which replicate guarantees in the European Convention on Human Rights and other international treaties. See Article 6 TEU.

Coming into force

The process by which an Act of Parliament, secondary legislation or other legal instrument comes to have legal effect. The law can be relied upon from the date on which it comes into force but not any sooner. Also known as commencement.


Competence means all the areas where the treaties give the EU the ability to act, including the provisions in the treaties giving the EU institutions the power to legislate, to adopt non-legislative acts, or to take any other sort of action. It also means areas where the treaties apply directly to the member states without needing any further action by the EU institutions. The EU’s competences are set out in the EU treaties, which provide the basis for any actions the EU institutions take. The EU can only act within the limits of the competences conferred on it by the treaties, and where the treaties do not confer competences on the EU they remain with the member states. See Article 5(2) TEU.

Converted legislation

EU laws that applied in the UK the moment before the UK left the EU, which are converted into domestic law through the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

The CJEU has jurisdiction to rule on the interpretation and application of the treaties. In particular, the Court has jurisdiction to rule on challenges to the validity of EU acts, in infraction proceedings brought by the Commission against member states and on references from national courts concerning the interpretation of EU acts. The Court is made up of two sub-courts: the General Court and the Court of Justice (which issometimes called the ECJ). See Article 19 TEU and Articles 251 to 281 TFEU.


A legislative act of the EU which is binding upon those to whom it is addressed. If a decision has no addressees, it binds everyone. See Article 288 TFEU.

Delegated Act

A form of EU instrument which is similar to UK secondary legislation. A EU legislative act, such as a directive or a regulation, can delegate power to the Commission to adopt delegated acts to supplement or amend non-essential elements of the legislative act. See Article 290 TFEU.

Devolution settlements

The constitutional arrangements governing which decision making responsibilities and legislation making powers have been devolved and the mechanisms through which these operate.

Devolution statutes (or Acts/legislation)

The principal Acts of Parliament that set out the terms of the devolution settlements. These are the Scotland Act 1998, the Northern Ireland Act 1998, and the Government of Wales Act 2006. ‘Devolution legislation’ may refer either to the devolution statutes or to the statues together with the secondary legislation made under them.

Devolved administrations

The governments of the devolved nations of the UK. These are the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.

Devolved competence

The areas in which the devolved legislatures are responsible for making laws (‘legislative competence’) or the devolved administrations are responsible for governing or making secondary legislation (‘executive competence’).

Devolved institutions

Used to refer collectively to both the devolved administrations and the devolved legislatures.

Devolved legislatures

The law making bodies of the devolved nations of the UK. These are the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.


A legislative act of the EU which requires member states to achieve a particular result without dictating the means of achieving that result. Directives must be transposed into national law using domestic legislation, in contrast to regulations, which are enforceable as law in their own right. See Article 288 TFEU.

EU agencies

EU agencies are legal entities (separate from the EU institutions) set up to perform specific tasks under EU law. They include bodies such as the European Medicines Agency, the European Police Office (Europol) and the European Union Agency for Railways.

EU institutions

There are a number of EU bodies which are defined under the Treaties as EU institutions including the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission.

The EU Treaties (including TEU and TFEU)

The European Economic Community (EEC) was established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. This Treaty has since been amended and supplemented by a series of treaties, the latest of which is the Treaty of Lisbon. The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, re-organised the two treaties on which the European Union is founded: the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty establishing the European Community, which was re-named the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

European Commission

The Commission is the main executive body of the EU. It has general executive and management functions. In most cases it has the sole right to propose EU legislation. In many areas it negotiates international agreements on behalf of the EU and represents the EU in international organisations. And the Commission also oversees and enforces the application of Union law, in particular by initiating infraction proceedings where it considers that a member state has not complied with its EU obligations. See Article 17 TFEU and Articles 244 to 250 TFEU.

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

An international convention, ratified by the UK and incorporated into UK law in the Human Rights Act 1998. It specifies a list of protected Human Rights, and establishes a Court (European Court of Human Rights sitting in Strasbourg) to determine breaches of those rights. All member states are parties to the Convention. The Convention is a Council of Europe Convention, which is a different organisation from the EU. Article 6 TEU provides for the EU to accede to the ECHR.

European Council

The European Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the EU. It consists of the Heads of State or Government of the member states, together with its President and the President of the Commission. See Article 15 TEU and Articles 235 and 236 TFEU.

European Parliament

The European Parliament (EP) consists of representatives elected by Union citizens. The EP shares legislative and budgetary power with the Council, and has oversight over the actions of the Commission. See Article 14 TEU and Articles 223 to 234 TFEU.

Implementing acts

A form of EU instrument which is similar to UK secondary legislation. A legally binding EU act, such as a directive or a regulation, can enable the Commission (and in some cases the Council) to adopt implementing acts where uniform conditions for implementing the legislative act are needed. See Article 291 TFEU.

Negative procedure

A statutory instrument under the negative procedure will become law once made without debate unless there is an objection from either House.

Preserved legislation


Existing domestic legislation which implements our EU obligations and will be preserved in domestic law through the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

A legislative act of the EU which is directly applicable in member states without the need for national implementing legislation (as opposed to a directive, which must be transposed into domestic law by member states using domestic legislation). See Article 288 TFEU.

Secondary legislation

Legal instruments (including regulations and orders) made under powers delegated to ministers or other office holders in Acts of Parliament. They have the force of law but can be disapplied by a court if they do not comply with the terms of their parent Act. Also called subordinate or delegated legislation.

Statute book

The body of legislation that has been enacted by Parliament or one of the devolved legislatures and has effect in the UK.

Statutory instrument

A form of secondary legislation to which the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 applies.


Prepared 18th January 2018