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EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Glossary of summaries

The European Union’s external action

While internal competences concern the European Union's internal functioning, external competences are those that fall within the framework of the EU's relations and partnerships with non-EU countries and international, regional or global organisations (such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, etc.).

The EU may conclude, within the framework of its competences, external agreements with non-EU countries or international organisations (Article  216(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) which are binding on the EU's institutions and on EU countries. Such agreements are an integral part of the EU's legal order.