Chapter 32: EU general principles in external relations: shaping the EU as a global actor and dealing with its accountability
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The chapter assesses the role that selected general principles of EU law have played in shaping the legal framework for EU external action, strengthening the political and judicial accountability of the EU as a global actor. It investigates the extent to which the CJEU is in a position to employ general principles as a benchmark and interpretative aid in a field that is subject to a high degree of political discretion and to the dynamic development of global challenges. The chapter considers how the Court's limited jurisdiction within the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has affected judicial engagement with general principles protecting institutional prerogatives, on the one hand, and individuals' rights affected by the EU's external action, on the other hand. The chapter also attempts to delineate the systemic limits to the Court's capacity to contribute to the further development of general principles in the field of external relations. The chapter argues that the impact of the EU's general principles of conferral, sincere cooperation, effectiveness, institutional balance, and democracy has been similar to their role within the EU's internal legal sphere. They have provided the basis for the Court to delimit and ensure the lawful exercise of EU and Member State external competences, strengthened the EU's accountability towards individuals, and helped establishing the EU as a global actor in its own right. The chapter demonstrates that general principles have not only been employed by the CJEU as a benchmark and interpretative aid, but that also other EU institutions have recognised the constitutional significance of general principles as a guiding force in the context of international treaty-making and other external action.

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