Normative Transformations in EU External Relations: The Phenomenon of 'Soft' International Agreements

Ramses Wessel*

*Corresponding author for this work

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15 Citations (Scopus)
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The European Union increasingly uses ‘soft’ international arrangements rather than formal international agreements in establishing relations with non-EU states. This contribution aims to raise the question of to what extent a move from hard to soft law in relations between the EU and its partners can be seen as allowing the Union to ‘step outside’ the legal framework (if that indeed is what is happening) and disregard the rules and principles that define the way in which EU external relations are to take shape. Possible consequences include the risk that these instruments are not subject to appropriate safeguards, that parliamentary influence (by the European Parliament as well as by national parliaments) is by-passed and that transparency is affected. There are various reasons for the EU not to use formal procedures, but a turn to informality does come at a price.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-92
Number of pages21
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number1
Early online date27-Mar-2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2021

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