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Conventions and agreements

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

Conventions and agreements are part of the secondary legislation of the European Union (EU). They are the result of a consensus between the EU and a third country or a cooperation agreement between the European institutions.

Conventions and agreements, together with unilateral acts, constitute the secondary legislation of the European Union (EU). They generate rights and obligations. They are the product of a consensus between the European institutions or between the latter and a third party. Unlike unilateral acts, therefore, conventions and agreements are not the result of a legislative procedure or the sole will of an institution.

Moreover, the founding Treaties of the EU provide for two main types of convention and agreement:

  • international agreements;
  • interinstitutional agreements.

International agreements

International agreements are agreements concluded between the EU on the one hand and a third country or third-party organisation on the other. Article 216 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU lists the cases in which the EU is authorised to conclude such agreements.

Moreover, international agreements have mandatory application throughout the EU. They have a value greater than unilateral secondary acts, which must therefore comply with them.

Interinstitutional agreements

Interinstitutional agreements are concluded between the European institutions. Their aim is to organise and facilitate cooperation between the institutions, specifically the Commission, the Parliament and the Council.

This type of agreement is the result of institutional practice but has been enshrined in the founding Treaties of the EU with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. Article 295 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU recognises the existence of interinstitutional agreements and specifies that they may also be binding. In this case the binding nature of the agreement depends on the wishes of the authors of the act.

Moreover, interinstitutional agreements may for example take the form of codes of conduct, guidelines or declarations.

Last updated: 27.08.2010

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