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Direct effect

This piece of complex-sounding legalese is actually relatively easy to understand. In order for EU laws to mean anything, they must have some real clout in the Union's member states. This is where the idea of direct effect comes in. The term simply means that EU legislation must be respected in all the Union's member countries. The precise nature of the effect a law has depends on the type of legislation in question. There are quite a few different sorts of EU law, but the most common are regulations, which must be respected to the letter; directives, which can be slightly adapted to fit different legal customs in different member states; and recommendations, which are basically suggestions that governments have to listen to but do not have to do anything about.