Step 3. Exclusive EU competences

Exclusive competences really set the EU apart. Unlike any international organization, the EU has certain competences (powers) that require action at the EU level only. In these policy areas, only the EU can legislate and adopt legally binding acts. The Member States can only do so if empowered by the EU or if they need to adopt national legislation for the implementation of EU acts.

The subject matter areas that fall within exclusive competence are set out in Article 3(1) TFEU: customs union; the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market; monetary policy for the member states whose currency is the euro; the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy; and the common commercial policy.

In the area of monetary policy, there are some differences among Member States. Currently, not all Member States use the euro as their currency. Read more about the euro area here

In addition, the EU has the power to conclude international agreements with other states. This happens when the conclusion of the agreements is required by a legislative act of the EU, when their conclusion is necessary to enable the EU to exercise its internal competence, or if their conclusion may affect common rules or alter their scope.

You can find out more about EU’s trade agreements with third countries here.