City Research Online

EU External Relations

Cardwell, P. J. ORCID: 0000-0002-7485-3474 & Gillies, L. (2017). EU External Relations. In: Busby, N. & Zahn, R. (Eds.), Studying EU Law in Scotland during and after Brexit. (pp. 85-92). Scottish Universities Legal Network on Europe.


The European Union has extensive competences to engage with the world beyond its borders. Therefore, the UK’s own relationships with non-EU countries are deeply embedded in the EU institutional framework, and the process of Brexit will require substantial legal reform in the UK. The term ‘external relations’ in fact covers an extremely wide set of policies which rely on a diverse set of legal competences. For this reason, we tend not to use the term ‘foreign policy’ unless this refers to the ‘political’ as opposed to ‘economic’ aspects, though even these are not always easily separated.

‘External relations’ is taken to cover the Common Commercial Policy, the powers of the EU to make agreements with ‘third’ – i.e. non-EU – countries, neighbourhood policy, development policy, relations with international institutions and what is known as the ‘external dimension of internal policies’. The latter refers to a long-standing legal principle set out by the Court of Justice in Case 22-70 AETR, under which the EU has implied external competence where it enjoys internal competence. In addition to the wide variety of external competences which are scattered throughout the treaties, the legal instruments and institutional arrangements which apply across these areas are not the same throughout. This makes external relations a particularly complex area which the UK will need to extract itself from. We will address two of the main focal points of EU external relations: the CCP and the CFS.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Copyright © 2017 Scottish Universities Legal Network on Europe. This publication is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
J Political Science > JZ International relations
K Law > K Law (General)
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
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