EU International Relations Law: The External Dimension of European Integration - NOTE: THE COURSE IS CANCELLED IN THE AUTUMN SEMESTER 2018

Course content

Over the past six decades of European Integration, the role of the European Union has become increasingly important, to the point where the EU has become an international actor which is separate and distinctive from its Member States. First developed the Common Commercial Policy, through which the Union now possesses a wide competence to act before the World
Trade Organization, a competence which is to the exclusion of the EU Member States. As political integration followed and economic integration widened, the Union became a distinct international actor in many more fields: With the Lisbon Treaty, foreign direct investment has become an exclusive competence of the Union; EU military actions to combat piracy in the gulf of Aden are run through Operation Atalanta, a mission part of the EU’s Common Security and
Defence Policy; international aviation is increasingly organized through EU agreements alone; extradition with the US is organized on the basis of a mixed EU-Member State agreement negotiated by the Commission, the list is long. Long gone are the days where Member States of the European Union conducted their individual foreign policies independently of each other.

The aim of this course is to provide students interested in EU law, international law and international politics a deeper insight into the growing body of ‘EU External Relations Law’. In doing so the course will seek to provide the student with a strong sense of why European integration has developed as it has over the past six decades. The goal is to understand and
debate the legal and political interests that have shaped the present state of the Union in the world: the historical impact of the Court of Justice, the influence of pro-integration members, the influence of the Commission, Council and Parliament. The goal is thus to not simply know internal rules governing EU external relations as well as EU law as against international law,
but also to look beyond law – to understand the economic and political interests which these rules reflect, and to comprehend their impact on socio-economic and political processes these rules intend to organize. One key question we will investigate throughout the semester is then this: Is the internal fragmentation of the EU and its Member States damaging Europe’s ability to reflect its interests on the international scene in an effective and coherent fashion?

This course will guide the student through the internal and external aspects of EU external relations law. Internally, the course examines the legal organization of the European Union as an international actor: its development towards having a distinct legal personality; its exclusive policy competences and those its shares with the Member States, the legal nature of mixed international agreements – treaties concluded by both the EU and its Member States and the challenges they entail. The role of the European Court of Justice, and the institutional framework of EU external relations. Prominent in this course will be the Lisbon Treaty changes, notably the European Union External Action Service, the new diplomatic service of the Union. Externally, the course examines the participation of the EU in international organizations, and the relationship between international law and EU law. The latter includes the relationship between WTO and EU law, as well as recent debates on human rights protection at EU and UN level in the context of combating terrorism.

In keeping with the law-in-context approach of this course, a number of substantive policy areas will be discussed: international trade (goods, services and investment); development; aviation and energy policy; common foreign and security policy (defence and peacekeeping); and justice and home affairs.

Learning outcome

During the course, students will be able to become compentent in acquiring new knowledge on the EU’s international relations from a legal persepctive. With such new skillsets, that will be gained, students competencies will allow them to identify the complex legal problems concerning the rules that govern the relationship between the Member States and the EU and between the EU institutions. It will allow the students to formulate and argue in a clear and
concise fashion a legal argument on the constitutional and institutional rules that will be outlined, discussed and debated during the classes. Upon completion of the course, it will allow the students to demonstrate analytical capacity to separate legal reasoning from political arguments, and possess the ability to argue how they interrelate in the context of EU external
relations law.

Furthermore, they will be able to argue why law has such an important role in the EU as an international actor, more so than in domestic legal systems. All of this new knowledge, skills, and competences will be predicated on the basis of having the ability to contextualise the EU and international rules against the broader context of European integration
and international politics.

Participation and presentation underscore the learning activities in the course. The key
objectives of this course are a critical attitude to objectivity in law and contextualisation of law in political context. To attain that goal, in this course we will aim to go beyond passive lectures, and active participation is necessary. The nature of the material is such that it lends itself to debate and disagreement, and success of the classes are predicated on students having read andprepared the required materials before coming to class. Interaction and discussion is essential.
To support the preparation, in most of the sessions, questions have been prepared in relation to the reading materials. These questions will be posed in class, and through debates on them we will tease out legal issues, within the political context. All students are expected to give one presentation in-class, which consists of briefly presenting to class the required reading for that day. In the presentations, the main arguments should be outlined, as well as the problems. The depth of the syllabus is intended for those truly interested in the field. That said, for the final examination, students are only expected to know the required reading materials in line with the teaching objectives set out in the course description. The recommended readings are for those students who wish to know more about a certain topic, aimed at jumpstarting preparation for the synopses, where a deeper knowledge on the topic is expected.

Max. 750 pages consisting of selected articles, book chapters and relevant case-law.

A good knowledge of English is required to allow the consumption of the academic materials, and for class debate on the substantive subject matter. Furthermore, whilst not essential, a basic knowledge of EU constitutional and institutional law, as well as international public law would be enormously beneficial for attaining the objectives of this course. To those students who are not familiar with Union law, it is recommended to follow the short Introduction to EU law course, which is offered in parallel.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Oral exam based on synopsis, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • English
  • 412,5