Research Handbook on the Law of International Organizations
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Research Handbook on the Law of International Organizations

Edited by Jan Klabbers and Åsa Wallendahl

This pioneering Research Handbook with contributions from renowned experts, provides an overview of the general doctrines making up the law of international organizations.
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Chapter 17: The EU as (More Than) an International Organization

Joxerramon Bengoetxea


Joxerramon Bengoetxea* INTRODUCTION No two organizations are alike: they are all sui generis. But some international organizations (IOs) are more sui generis than others. The European Union (EU), formerly including the European Community (EC), is clearly one of them. ‘On the one hand, it may be viewed as an entity created by international treaties entered into by sovereign states, an entity with its own courts and legal system, but one founded on the Treaties, which constitute its supreme law. On the other hand, one can see it as an embryonic federation, inherently committed to a process of growth by which it will become an actual federation’ (Hartley, 1996: 109). This ambivalent but in my view still correct categorization is not so different from Joseph Weiler’s constitutional thesis which avoids the F word of federalism: ‘the constitutional thesis claims that in critical aspects the Community has evolved and behaves as if its founding instrument were not a treaty governed by international law but, to use the language of the European Court of Justice, a constitutional charter governed by a form of constitutional law’ (Weiler, 1997: 96). The question will then become which are those crucial aspects Weiler talks about and are there not equally crucial aspects in which the former EC and especially the EU are international organizations governed by an international treaty? If one takes encyclopedias as embracing basic standard knowledge on a subject, then we can probably rely on the most popular ‘democratic’ encyclopedia, Wikipedia, to see what the...

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