Current Legal Issues in the External Relations of the European Union
This paper is based on a lecture delivered during the Academy of European Law Summer School 2006. It provides an examination from a legal perspective of three current themes in the external relations of the European Union. First, the legal implications of the pillar structure for external relations, including recent case law and practical issues arising from the application of Article 47 TEU, the borderline between Community external policies and the Union’s common foreign and security policy, and practical interpillar cooperation. It concludes that it is easier to combine the pillars by means of pragmatic solutions, whereas it is much more difficult in the case of a strictly legal construction which takes into account the requirements of Union coherence and the separate character of each pillar. Second, the paper turns to the balance between Member States and the European Union/Community in external policy and in particular the application of the AETR test in recent case law including the Open Skies cases, the Lugano Convention Opinion and the Mox Plant case. It concludes that a proper application of the AETR remains a practical challenge that transcends the narrow issue of pure legal deduction as to whether Community competence is affected or not. And third, the paper considers the position of the EU within, and participation in the work of, international organisations such as the United Nations, the WHO and the WTO. The paper concludes by emphasising the need for collaboration between the institutions and for pragmatic solutions to the problems that are inevitable while the Union retains its current complex structure.
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