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Summaries of EU Legislation

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International conventions and agreements of the EU

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
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International conventions and agreements of the EU

 

SUMMARY OF:

Article 216 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

WHAT DO THE EU TREATIES SAY ABOUT THE EU’S CONVENTIONS AND AGREEMENTS?

  • International conventions and agreements, together with unilateral acts (i.e. regulations, directives, decisions, opinions and recommendations), constitute the secondary legislation of the EU.
  • They are treaties under public international law and generate rights and obligations for the contracting parties as negotiated between them.
  • Unlike unilateral acts, conventions and agreements are not the result of a legislative procedure or the sole will of an institution.

KEY POINTS

International agreements (conventions, treaties)

International agreements are concluded between the EU on the one hand, and another entity of public international law, i.e. a state or an international organisation, on the other. Article 216 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) cites the cases in which the EU is authorised to conclude such agreements. After having been negotiated and signed, and according to the subject matter concerned, they may require ratification by an act of secondary legislation.

Moreover, international agreements have mandatory application throughout the EU. They have a legal force superior to unilateral secondary acts, which must therefore comply with them.

In addition, Article 207 of the TFEU governs the EU’s trade policy — a key external competence of the EU and a central element of its relations with the rest of the world.

Examples of international agreements:

If the subject matter of an agreement does not fall under the exclusive competence of the EU, EU countries also have to sign the agreement. These are known as ‘mixed agreements’. This means that, in addition to the EU itself, EU countries become contracting parties towards the non-EU contracting parties. Mixed agreements may also require that an internal EU act is adopted to share out the obligations between the EU countries and the EU.

MAIN DOCUMENTS

Article 216 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 144)

Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 140–141)

last update 16.08.2016

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