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Legal personality of the EU

Article 47 of the Treaty on European Union explicitly recognises the legal personality of the European Union, making it an independent entity in its own right.

The conferral of legal personality on the European Union (EU) means that it has the ability to:

  • conclude and negotiate international agreements and sign treaties in accordance with its external commitments;
  • become a member of international organisations;
  • join international conventions, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, as stipulated in Article 6(2) of the Treaty on European Union.

International agreements concluded by the EU can be directly binding and have primacy over national laws and constitutions. This capacity of the EU is reflected in Articles 3(2) and 216(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The EU is an organisation with the external capacity to enter diplomatic relations through a number of rights, such as the right to be represented and receive representatives of non-EU states and organisations, the right to enjoy immunities or the right to submit claims or to act before an international court or judge.