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When in Europe: Customary International Law and EU Competence in the Sphere of External Action

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 March 2019

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European Union law must be interpreted and its scope delimited, to the extent possible, consistent with the relevant rules of international law. Article 3(5) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) provides that “the EU shall uphold and promote … the strict observance and the development of international law.” A similar legal commitment can be found in the constitutions of most EU Member States, which in some cases is about delegation of powers, whilst in others it concerns the achievement of global objectives. Article 3(5) of the TEU is also reminiscent of the judicial canon laid down by the United States Supreme Court in Charming Betsy regarding the affirmation of international norms by the Congress. The Charming Betsy doctrine of statutory construction requires national legislation (an American statute) to be construed so as not to raise conflict with international law where possible.

Type
Special Issue: EU Law qua Global Governance Law
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 by German Law Journal GbR 

References

1 Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union art. 3(5), Feb. 7, 1992, 2010 O.J. (C 83/01) [hereinafter TEU].Google Scholar

2 For example, while Article 25 of the German Constitution refers to the transfer of sovereign powers vis-à-vis international law, Article 2 (2) of the Greek Constitution concerns adherence to the rule of international law as a means of strengthening peace and justice and enhancing the relations between citizens and states.Google Scholar

3 Murray v. The Charming Betsy, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 64 (1804).Google Scholar

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5 See, e.g., International Law as Law of the European Union (Enzo Cannizzaro, Paolo Palchetti & Ramses Wessel eds., 2011); The Europeanisation of International Law: The Status of International Law in the EU and Its Member States (Jan Wouters, Andre Nollkaemper & Erika De Wet eds., 2008); International Law Aspects of the European Union (Martti Koskenniemi ed., 1998).Google Scholar

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7 Id. at art. 351.Google Scholar

8 TEU, supra note 1, at arts. 42(2), 42(7).Google Scholar

9 TEU, supra note 1, at art. 6.Google Scholar

10 Piet Eeckhout, EU External Relations Law 326 (2d ed. 2011).Google Scholar

11 TFEU, supra note 6, at art. 216(2) (stating that treaties concluded by the EU are binding on EU institutions and its Member States and form an integral part of EU law).Google Scholar

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17 This refers to the language of “sa nature spécifique originale” first utilized by the CJEU in Costa. The language of autonomy has been relevant in defining the relationship between EU law and international law. This is most prominent in recent cases like Joined Cases C-402/05 and C-415/05, Kadi v. Council & Comm'n, 2008 E.C.R. I-6351 [hereinafter Kadi]. In Kadi, the international legal norms (i.e. UN Resolutions) from which EU law measures or regulations were derived from did not formally bind the EU. In such cases, the CJEU takes the view that such international legal norms do not form an integral part of EU law. See also Jam Willem Van Rossem, The EU at Crossroads: A Constitutional Inquiry into the Way International Law Is Received Within the EU Legal Order, in International Law as Law of the European Union 59, 63 (Enzo Cannizzaro, Paolo Palchetti & Ramses A. Wessel eds., 2011).Google Scholar

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23 Statute of the International Court of Justice, 3 Bevans 1179 (1945).Google Scholar

24 Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States, § 102(2) (1987).Google Scholar

25 See Jonathan I. Charney, The Persistent Objector Rule and the Development of Customary International Law, 56 Brit. Yearbook Int'l l. 1 (1985).Google Scholar

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33 Vienna Convention, supra note 29, at art. 26 (outlining the pacta sunt servanda principle).Google Scholar

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35 This provision provides that, “the rights and obligations arising from agreements concluded before 1 January 1958 or, for acceding States, before the date of their accession, between one or more Member States on the one hand, and one or more third countries on the other, shall not be affected by the provisions of the Treaties.”Google Scholar

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41 Case C-508/08, Comm'n v. Malta, 2010 E.C.R. I-10589, para. 4 (opinion of Advocate General Sharpston) [hereinafter Malta Sharpston opinion].Google Scholar

42 Racke, at para. 49 (stressing of this point by CJEU).Google Scholar

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44 Vienna Convention, supra note 29, at art. 31 (stating that a treaty is to be interpreted in good faith according to the ordinary meaning to be given to its terms in their context and in the light of its object and purpose).Google Scholar

45 Poulsen, at para. 10.Google Scholar

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47 See Cudak v. Lithuania App. No. 15869/02 (Eur. Ct. H.R. Mar. 23, 2010), para. 60 (discussing the application of the State-immunity rule in a sexual harassment case); Sabeh El Leil v. France, No. 34869/05, (Eur. Ct. H.R. June 29, 2011), para. 52 (applying State-immunity in a suit for lost wages).Google Scholar

48 See Racke, at paras. 45-46 (“concerning a customs debt arising on the importation into Germany of certain quantities of wine originating in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”).Google Scholar

49 Jan Wouters & Dries Van Eeckhoutte, Giving Effect to Customary International Law Through European Community Law 6-18 (Inst. for Int'l Law, Working Paper No 25 – June 2002), available at www.law.kuleuven.be/iir/nl/onderzoek/wp/WP25e.pdf [hereinafter Wouters].Google Scholar

50 See id. at 7-11. See, e.g., Case 41/74, Van Duyn v. Home Office, 1974 E.C.R. 1337, para. 22. In Van Duyn, the CJEU emphasized that under customary international law, a state is precluded from refusing its own nationals the right of entry and residence.Google Scholar

51 See Wouters, supra note 49, at 11-14. See, e.g., Case C-149/96, Portugal v. Council, 1999 E.C.R. I-8395, paras. 34-35. In Portugal v. Council, the CJEU highlighted the pacta sunt servanda principle as entailing bonafide performance of international agreements.Google Scholar

52 See Wouters & Eeckhoutte, supra note 49, at 14-16. See, e.g., Case C-135/08, Rottman v. Bayern, 2010 E.C.R. I-1449, para. 39. In Rottman, the CJEU, in line with its established case law, affirmed the principle under international law that Member States may lay down the conditions for their citizens’ acquisition and loss of nationality (as long as the pay due regard to their EU law obligations).Google Scholar

53 See Wouters, supra note 49, at 16-18.Google Scholar

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59 See Schütze, Robert, On “Middle Ground”: The European Community and Public International Law, in Highest Courts and the Internationalisation of Law: Challenges and Changes 35, 44 (Sam Muller & Marc Louth eds., 2009).Google Scholar

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63 Id. at paras. 48-49, 52. See also Case T-338/08, Stichting Natuur en Milieu v. Comm'n, 2012 E.C.R. _____, para. 56, available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62008TJ0338:EN:HTML. In Stichting Natuur en Milieu, “[T]he Court examined the validity of a regulation in the light of customary international law in so far as it found that ‘the individual concerned was invoking fundamental rules of customary international law against the disputed regulation, which had been taken pursuant to those rules and deprived that individual of the rights to preferential treatment granted to it by the Cooperation Agreement.'’” Id. Google Scholar

64 See ETS judgment (relying on customary international law in considering the inclusion of aviation activities in greenhouse gas emission schemes).Google Scholar

65 See Case T-396/09, Vereniging Milieudefensie v. Comm'n, 2012 E.C.R. _____, para. 56, available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62008TJ0338:EN:HTML (citing Racke).Google Scholar

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67 See Case C-154/11, Mahamdia v. Algeria, 2012 E.C.R. _____, para. 17 (opinion of Advocate General Mengozzi), available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62011CC0154:EN:HTML.Google Scholar

68 See Case Comment on Racke, 117 Int'l L. Reports 399, 423 (2000).Google Scholar

69 See Conforti, Benedetto & Labella, Angelo, Invalidity and Termination of Treaties: The Role of National Courts, 1 Eur. J. Int'l L. 44, 58, 65 (1990) (discussing the operation of treaties in conjunction with customary international law); see also Lea Brilmayer, Federalism, State Authority, and the Preemptive Power of International Law, 1994 Sup. Ct. Rev. 295, 310-14 (1994) (providing an analysis of federal common law); Beth Stephens, The Law of Our Land: Customary International Law as Federal Law After Erie, 66 Fordham L. Rev. 393 (1997) (discussing the role of customary international law in the United States).Google Scholar

70 Council Directive 2003/87/EC, 2003 O.J. (L 275) 32; Council Directive 2008/101/EC, 2009 O.J. (L 8) 3.Google Scholar

71 Council Directive 2008/101/EC, 2009 O.J. (L 8) 3.Google Scholar

72 See Zeben, Josephine van, Respective Powers of the European Member State and Commission Regarding Emissions Trading and Allowance Allocation, 12 Envtl. L. Rev. 216, 222-24 (2010) (discussing the impact of recent court decisions on the European energy market).Google Scholar

73 Council Directive 2008/101/EC, 2009 O.J. (L 8) 17. To be more specific, the 2008 Directive imposed a cap on the total quantity of aviation emissions and required aircraft operators to surrender emissions allowances for the entirety of flights departing from or arriving in the EU. In certain circumstances, it required aircraft operators wishing to carry out aviation activities in excess of their free allocation to purchase allowances at auction. The 2008 Directive also provided for an excess penalty of €100 per ton of carbon dioxide to be imposed on aircraft operators that do not surrender sufficient allowances. It also introduced the possibility of an EU-wide operating ban on the aircraft operator concerned in the event an aircraft operator failed to comply with the requirements of the Directive.Google Scholar

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75 For a more detailed analysis of this aspect of the judgment, see Burgess Salmon, Case Comment, Air Transport Association of America v. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (C-366/10), 14 Envtl. L. Rev. 81 (2012).Google Scholar

76 U.N. Charter art. 1, para. 7.Google Scholar

77 It should be noted that the Chicago Convention/ICAO is internationally recognized as the forum through which international aviation issues, including greenhouse gas emissions, should be regulated.Google Scholar

78 See U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea art. 87, 89, 212, & 222, Dec. 10, 1982, 1833 U.N.T.S 397; U.N. Convention on the High Seas art. 2, Apr. 29, 1958, 13 U.S.T. 2313, 450 U.N.T.S. 82; Fisheries Jurisdiction (U.K. v. Ice.), 1974 I.C.J. 3, para. 50 (July 25).Google Scholar

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86 See id. at para. 106.Google Scholar

87 Since this decision, under the auspices of ICAO, the Moscow Joint Declaration was issued providing that, “the EU and its Member States must cease application of the Directive 2008/101/EC to airlines/aircraft operators registered in third States.” Joint Declaration of the Moscow Meeting on Inclusion of Civil Aviation in the EU-ETS, Feb. 21, 2012, available at http://www.bdl.aero/media/filer_public/2012/02/22/joint_declaration_of_the_moscow_meeting.pdf. The Declaration was signed by twenty-three states. Id. See also Robert Ireland, The EU Aviation Emissions Policy and Border Tax Adjustments 7 (World Customs Org. Policy Research Brief, July 2012), available at http://www.wcoomd.org/files/1.%20Public%20files/PDFandDocuments/research/26_EU_Aviation_Emissions_BTAs_EN.pdf.Google Scholar

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89 See Case C-224/01, Köbler v. Austria, 2003 E.C.R. I-10239 (determining which courts have jurisdictions to hear cases that may be contrary to Community law).Google Scholar

90 See Racke at para. 52.Google Scholar

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94 See id. at para. 48.Google Scholar

95 Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG – Federal Constitutional Court], Case No. 2 BvR 197/83, Oct. 22, 1986, 73 BVerfGE 339 (Ger.) (deciding to no longer examine Community laws for compatibility with German laws, entrusting that to the EU courts and lawmakers)Re Honeywell, Federal Constitutional Court (Second Chamber), 2011 1 C.M.L.R. 33.Google Scholar

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99 Interestingly, Danni argues that, “if the Court of Justice wishes to take seriously pacta sunt servanda, it should enforce those findings [i.e. that WTO-inconsistent measures infringe primary and secondary international trade obligations] in the [EU] legal order and, notably, it should rule that also for [EU] purposes the Commission and Council acted illegally.” Dani, supra note 20, at 325.Google Scholar

100 See Case T-69/00, FIAMM v. Council, 2005 E.C.R. II-5393, para. 21. The General Court concluded that the conditions governing such no-fault liability were not satisfied because the damage suffered by the applicants was not “unusual and special in nature.” Id. at para. 155. For a critique of the FIAMM test, see Alberto Alemanno, The Fiamm Judgment or “Going Bananas”! A Missed Opportunity to Distribute the Costs of European Community's Non-compliance with WTO Rulings Across Society, in The ECJ Under Siege: New Constitutional Challenges for the ECJ 208, 213 (Giuseppe Martinico & Filippo Fontanelli eds., 2009).Google Scholar

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102 Scott, Joanne & Rajamani, Lavanya, EU Climate Change Unilateralism, 23 Eur. J. Int'l L. 469 (2012).Google Scholar

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