Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law
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Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law

Edited by Gareth Davies and Matej Avbelj

The Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law explores the diversity of phenomenon of overlapping legal systems within the European Union, the nature of their interactions, and how they deal with the difficult question of the legal hierarchy between them. The contributors reflect on the history, sociology and legal scholarship on constitutional and legal pluralism, and develop this further in the light of the challenges currently facing the EU.
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Chapter 20: The EU’s relationship to international law: lessons from Brexit

Pavlos Eleftheriadis


This chapter argues that the process of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU has revealed important truths about the continuing dependence of EU law on international law. First, the deal agreed by the UK and the EU in February 2016 as part of David Cameron’s attempt to ‘reform’ the relationship between the UK and the EU was an international agreement under the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties. Second, the process of withdrawal and especially the challenges of a withdrawal agreement and a separate trade agreement also show the permanent dependence of EU law on public international law. EU law is a creation of international law and international law is a legal order, meaning it provides standards of conduct for international actors and individuals within a systematic intellectual framework, even when the EU legal order falls away.

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