United States Mission to the European Union
Foreign Agricultural Service
United States Department Of Agriculture
Last modified: December 21, 2016

Difference between a Regulation, Directive and Decision


Regulations have binding legal force throughout every Member State and enter into force on a set date in all the Member States.

Example: Food Information to Consumers Regulation 1169/2011

Directives lay down certain results that must be achieved but each Member State is free to decide how to transpose directives into national laws.

Example: Directive 2002/46 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to food supplements

Decisions are EU laws relating to specific cases and directed to individual or several Member States, companies or private individuals.  They are binding upon those to whom they are directed.

Example: Commission Implementing Decision 2016/1189 authorizing UV-treated milk as a novel food (see Article 3)