Tag Archives: Conventions and agreements

International agreements

International agreements

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about International agreements

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

International agreements

INTRODUCTION

With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union (EU) acquired legal personality. It is therefore a subject of international law which is capable of negotiating and concluding international agreements on its own behalf.

These international agreements have legal effects in the internal law of the EU and the Member States. Moreover, the founding Treaties of the EU lay down the procedures by which the EU can conclude international agreements.

Definition

International agreements are the result of a consensus between the EU on the one hand and a third country or third-party organisation on the other hand. These agreements create rights and obligations for the European institutions and Member States. They become part of the European legal order on the date of their entry into force or on the date that they specify.

Legally, international agreements are secondary conventions and agreements and must therefore comply with the founding Treaties of the EU. However, they have greater value than “unilateral” secondary acts, i.e. acts adopted unilaterally by the European institutions (regulations, directives, decisions, etc.).

External competences of the EU

The external competences of the EU are defined in Article 216 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. The EU may conclude international agreements:

  • in the cases provided for by the founding Treaties;
  • where provided for in a legally binding act;
  • where the conclusion of an agreement is necessary in order to achieve one of the objectives of the EU, even in the absence of internal European legislation;
  • where the conclusion of the agreement is likely to affect common rules adopted by the EU in internal law. Thus, where the EU has adopted common rules for the implementation of a policy, Member States are no longer entitled to enter into obligations with third countries affecting those rules.

Exclusive competence and shared competence

The division of competences between the EU and Member States is also expressed at international level. Where the EU negotiates and concludes an international agreement, it has either exclusive competence or competence which is shared with Member States.

Where it has exclusive competence, the EU alone has the power to negotiate and conclude the agreement. Moreover, Article 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU specifies the areas in which the EU has exclusive competence to conclude international agreements.

Where its competence is shared with Member States, the agreement is concluded both by the EU and by the Member States. It is therefore a mixed agreement to which Member States must give their consent. The areas in which competences are shared are defined in Article 4 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.

Conventions and agreements

Conventions and agreements

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Conventions and agreements

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

Conventions and agreements

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.