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International conventions and agreements of the EU

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?

  • 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 with non-EU countries or with international organisations are also an integral part of EU law. These agreements are separate from primary law and secondary legislation and form a sui generis category. According to some judgments of the CJEU, sometimes they can have direct effect and their legal force is superior to secondary legislation, 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

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Five: The Union's external action — Title V: International agreements — Article 216 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 144)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Five: The Union's external action — Title II: Common commercial policy — Article 207 (ex Article 133 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 140-141)

last update 13.03.2020

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