The EU as a party to international agreements: Shared competences, mixed responsibilities

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Introduction: The question of whether the European Union (EU) is competent to enter into international agreements with third States and other international organisations in the non-Community areas has been subject to intense debate ever since the negotiations on the Maastricht Treaty. The main controversy behind the debate was (and to some extent still is) the unclear legal status of the EU. While the Treaty of Lisbon (TL) clearly confirms the international legal personality of the Union (Art. 47 TEU revised), the current Treaty regime remains silent on this question. This has not prevented the EU from engaging actively in legal relations with third States and other international organisations. By now the EU has become a party to some 90 international agreements. With the increasing legal activity of the EU on the international plane, particularly reflected in the coming of age of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the question of its legal accountability becomes more prominent. Whereas the international legal responsibility of the European Community has been subject to extensive legal analysis, the same does not hold true for the European Union. It is unclear whether the EU as such may be held accountable for any wrongful act. While there are good reasons to assume that the EU already enjoyed an international legal status from the outset, this does not imply that its external relations regime is therefore also comparable to the rules we know from Community law.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw and Practice of EU External Relations
Subtitle of host publicationSalient Features of a Changing Landscape
EditorsAlan Dashwood, Marc Maresceau
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic) 9780511494925
ISBN (Print)9780521899239
Publication statusPublished - 1-Jan-2008

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