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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: May 2018

2 - Instruments of EU external action

Summary

Central issues

  • In this chapter we analyse the instruments through which the EU conducts its external relations. We distinguish between instruments that are adopted within the EU legal order (internal) and those adopted by the Union in the international order (international). These may be instruments adopted by the EU alone (autonomous instruments) or the result of agreements between the Union and a counter-party (conventionally agreed instruments). These instruments can then be legally binding (hard law) or they may be committing in other more indirect or political ways (soft law).

  • International agreements are the EU’s legal external relations tools par excellence. They form the key legal instrument to allow the Union to play along in the global legal order and to establish legal relationships with third states and other international organizations. If the EU lacked the competence to conclude international agreements, its external relations would be the object of study of political scientists and international relations experts only, and not so much of lawyers. The main part of this chapter will therefore be devoted to the conclusion and variety of international agreements (including mixed agreements, association agreements (AAs) and agreements to accede or withdraw);

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