Research Handbook on the Politics of EU Law
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Research Handbook on the Politics of EU Law

Edited by Paul James Cardwell and Marie-Pierre Granger

Offering a wealth of thought-provoking insights, this topical Research Handbook analyses the interplay between the law and politics of the EU and examines the role of law and legal actors in European integration.
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Chapter 20: Critical EU international relations law: a research agenda

Elaine Fahey


The chapter reflects upon EU international relations law by drawing on critical EU studies for the future framing of EU IR law. EU IR is a highly successful subject. Yet it has increasingly more subjects and objects and the EU risks becoming a victim of its own success. EU IR law has long been a highly doctrinal subject, dominated by highly court-centric views on EU integration and in need of further analytical insights to grapple with the post-Brexit era. EU IR yet appears increasingly as a highly deserving focus of the deeper and better study of EU integration. Since new post-Lisbon trade agreements explicitly and unambiguously lack direct effect, they further put into sharper focus the role of individual enforcement of EU international trade law going forward and the effectiveness of remedies. It is of major significance that EU IR law will become increasingly difficult to litigate in this new era and render the conventional court-centric narrative of EU integration somewhat difficult to place. It may also be that other areas of law enable citizens’ or NGOs’ empowerment (e.g. as to external migration or defence) in ways which ordinary individuals/businesses may not achieve. Nonetheless, this new era of arguably even more subjects and objects of EU IR law puts such a successful subject as EU IR into a new spotlight. Framing critical EU IR law as a research agenda thus enables forward reflections across a range of subjects and themes.

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