A directive is a legal act of the European Union, which requires member states to achieve a particular result without dictating the means of achieving that result.
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It can be distinguished from regulations which are self-executing and do not require any implementing measures. Directives normally leave member states with a certain amount of leeway as to the exact rules to be adopted. Directives can be adopted by means of a variety of legislative procedures depending on their subject matter. The legal basis for the enactment of directives is Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (formerly Article 249 TEC).
Article 288: To exercise the Union's competences, the institutions shall adopt regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions.
- A regulation shall have general application. It shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all member states.
- A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each member state to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods.
- A decision shall be binding in its entirety upon those to whom it is addressed.
- Recommendations and opinions shall have no binding force.