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European Union Law - Commentary: Article 4 of the EU Treaty (Member States’ sovereignty/cooperation duties)

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  1. Introduction
  2. The respect of the Member States' sovereignty by the Union
    1. The competences guaranteed to the Member States
    2. The application of all the rights resulting from the sovereignty of the Member States.
  3. The enforcement of the cooperation duty between the Member States and the Union.
    1. A cooperation to fulfill the EU Treaty's tasks
    2. The loyal cooperation principle

The document we are going to comment on is the article 4 of the EU Treaty, as modified by the Lisbon Treaty. It highlights the fact that the EU membership implies a great number of consequences for the member States. According to this article, although some rights belonging to the States are protected, new duties are created between the Member States and the Union. The European Union can be defined as a political and economic union established in 1993 after the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty by members of the European Community. The EU gathered six European States in 1951 with the creation of ECSC whereas today there are twenty seven member States and some countries which are applying to the EU membership.

The originality of the EU deals with its model of construction. Indeed, it is not a federation but a union gathering States which remain sovereign. Sovereignty is an original, unlimited, supreme and unconditional power granted to any States at both national and international levels. It results in many rights which the States cannot be deprived of. Besides, we could mention the Lisbon Treaty of 2007 which modified the pillar structure of the Union and gave the legal entity to the EU. This Treaty is very important here since it has modified the articles of the former EU Treaty, including article 4. For example, duties linked to the EU membership are detailed in this article and it could be interesting to define one of them. There is a cooperation duty which does exist between the Member States and the Union, and compels the States to facilitate the achievement of the objectives detailed in the Treaty by the measures they take.

[...] On the other hand, article 4 guarantees the protection of the States' sovereignty at an intern level by respecting the independence from the Union of their fundamental structures, political and constitutional, inclusive of regional and local self-government as well as their essential functions. So, it prevents the Union from taking part into the Member States intern affairs. Besides, it highlights the fact that national security remains the sole responsibility of each Member States with no intervention of the Union (if it is not extremely necessary). [...]

[...] For this reason, the third paragraph of the article 4 states that the member States shall take any appropriate measure, general or particular, to ensure the fulfillment of the obligations arising out of the Treaties or resulting from the acts of the institutions of the Union The objectives of the Treaties are dealt by the European institutions but the Member States are associated to their fulfillment. Indeed, they have to go through many way of cooperating to help the Union in its work. [...]

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