It is the primacy of EU law which has obliged national governments, including the Irish Government, to respect workers' rights created by EU legislation in such areas of equal pay, equal opportunity and health and safety.
The primacy issue must also be put in its proper context. The EU only exercises powers which have been given to it by member-states. The original Treaty of Rome provides that the community must act within the limits of the powers conferred upon it by the treaty and of the objectives assigned to it. In the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice treaties member-states sought to define more clearly the scope of union powers and introduced the principle of subsidiarity to ensure that the union would not adopt any new laws unless strictly necessary.
Ensuring the primacy of human rights in trade and investment policies