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the European Union as an actor in international law


The process of European integration has entailed a transfer of foreign relations powers from the Member States to the European Union (EU) that does not follow the lines of any other legal development. It is different from the experience of federal States, in so far as the devolution of foreign relations powers is only partial, and it has certainly not entailed the disappearance of the Member States as international legal persons. On the other hand, the quantity and the quality of the functions exercised by the EU on the international plane, and its capacity to develop its own course of foreign relations, makes it an entity with few, if any, traces of resemblance with other existing international organisations. The Treaty of Maastricht which entered into force in November 1993 provided for a Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU and for new substantive competences of the European Community (EC) in the areas of, inter alia,  international trade, fisheries, asylum and  immigration, external affairs, environmental protection and development cooperation. There is nowadays hardly any international conflict, dispute or foreign policy issue on which the European Commission or the EU-Presidency does not make a statement ‘on behalf of the EU and its Member States’.

My research deals with questions at the intersection of European law, public international law, and international relations. It looks both to the inside, giving an overview of the foreign relations law of the EU, and to the outside, examining the legal framework in which the EU acts on the international plane. Looking at the core areas of international law, I seek to examine the problems of and prospects for a supra-national actor in a legal system which is still largely dominated by States. The ultimate question I hope to explore is: Is international law adapting to a new actor or must the EU assume statehood to be a full actor in international law?

Responsibility of International Organizations: Does the European Community Require Special Treatment?, in: Maurizio Ragazzi (ed.), International Responsibility Today. Essays in Memory of Oscar Schachter (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2005), pp. 405-421.

The EU-Turkey Controversy over Cyprus or a Tale of Two Declarations, Chinese Journal of International Law 5 (2006), pp. 579-616.

Chypre: écueil pour la Turquie sur la voie de l`Europe, Annuaire français de droit international 51 (2005), pp. 85-119.

publications in preparation:
The European Union Practice in International Law 1993-2008, 3 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming) [see sample]


Oxford, 08/11/2009                          © Dr Stefan Talmon                                                                ^top