EU external relations and international law: divergence on questions of 'territory'?

Paul James Cardwell, Ramses A Wessel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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The European Union is not a state. Yet, it is increasingly involved in territorial questions, either of its own or of other states. Notions of territory and jurisdiction are central in international law. 1 Indeed, state sovereignty implies that states are the sole rule makers and rule enforcers within a jurisdiction that is intrinsically linked to their physical territory. This is obviously different for international organisations, 2 also considering that during the process of drafting the Convention on the Law of Treaties, the International Law Commission (ILC) had difficulties in accepting the existence of a ‘ territory of the organization ’ . 3 While the EU will largely leave internal border disputes to be settled on the basis of international law, 4 territorial questions are increasingly important, not just in relation to the changing role of borders in its internal market, but also in the context of its role as a global actor. As a maturing legal system, the possibility of divergence from international law is thus pertinent. 5 In that context, the main question that this chapter explores is if and how the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has used international law in the adjudication of (incidental) territorial matters that have arisen in the course of interpreting agreements with third states.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFraming Convergence with the Global Legal Order
EditorsElaine Fahey
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • EU
  • European Union
  • external relations
  • territory
  • international law


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