Edited by Sangeeta Khorana and María García
Chapter 2: EU international relations law: the power to conclude international trade agreements
As the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, the EU’s common commercial policy (CCP) constituted in Article 207 TFEU has been extended and clarified. Over time, the EU’s exclusive competence to conclude international agreements, which was formerly limited solely to trade in goods, has been expanded to encompass trade in services, foreign direct investment, and commercial aspects of intellectual property. Furthermore, there is an obligation on the EU to liberalise trade in a manner consistent with the ‘universal’ values that inspired its own creation, such as human rights and democracy, in accordance with Article 21 TEU. The requirement to export such values through its trade agreements brings within the scope of the CCP broader objectives not typically associated with economic liberalisation. Through an examination of the evolving Treaty frameworks and the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), this chapter examines the evolutive nature of the EU’s external competence to conclude international agreements and argues that the CCP has become an increasingly powerful foreign policy tool, especially in the negotiation of EU free trade agreements. Finally, this chapter argues from a legal perspective that the external trade policy of the EU is being used to promote ‘universal’ values, sometimes with unintended consequences.
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