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date: 15 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter assesses three key strands in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning a central dimension of foreign relations law, namely, the application of international law. The first section focuses on how the Court has reviewed the compatibility of EU-concluded treaties or envisaged treaties with the European Union’s constitutional text and also the review of treaties concluded by the member states. Judicial review powers in relation to treaties have increasingly been included in constitutional texts, but the European Union is distinctive in that its Court of Justice has regularly been called upon to exercise this form of jurisdiction, thus offering potentially valuable foreign relations law insights for constitutional design and practice in other constitutional systems. The second section focuses on the judicial enforcement of treaties and identifies a spate of recent rulings where more international law friendly outcomes would have been possible. A briefer third section focuses on the application of customary international law and highlights in particular the high threshold set for judicial review vis-à-vis such norms. The recent judicial developments identified in each of the respective three sections of this chapter have increasingly been deployed to challenge the traditionally dominant narrative in EU law scholarship of a Court of Justice that adopts a markedly international law friendly approach.

Keywords: European Union, Court of Justice, applying international law, enforcing treaties, judicially reviewing treaties, customary international law, European Union agreements

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