The European Union as an Actor in International Economic Law

Published 6 October 2015

On 1-2 October 2015, the Research Unit in Law of the University of Luxembourg and the Centre for the Law of EU External Relations (CLEER) from the T.M.C. Asser Institute organised a conference with the view to discussing recent developments concerning EU external action in the field of international economic law.

The conference focused thematically on a number of important issues raised by recent practice and case law whose resolution does not appear to be in the offing. After the conference was opened Prof. Matthew Happold (University of Luxembourg) and Prof. Mads Andenas (University of Oslo), the first day focused on the institutional issues in the sphere of international economic relations. The first session discussed, inter alia, the relationship between international and EU law as well as the extent to which the EU presents itself as an autonomous actor in international trade and investment relations. The second session scrutinised the division of internal and external competences between the EU and its Member States, developments in the use of mixed agreements as well as the role and status of intra - and extra - EU BITs.

The second day’s morning session started off with a discussion on the highly controversial issue of including dispute settlement mechanisms (ISDS) in EU international trade agreements. Given that the EU is a prolific actor in the field of international trade, questions regarding EU’s international responsibility as well as issues concerning the attribution of international responsibility between an international organisation and its Member States in such agreements were raised. The second session, which focussed on the EU’s new generation comprehensive trade and investment agreements, had a strong CLEER presence. Dr. Wybe Douma analysed how the EU may balance environmental protection and trade liberalisation whilst Dr. Luca Pantaleo outlined the ISDS under EU investment agreements. Moreover, Dr. Tamara Takacs gave a speech on the regulatory cooperation in the TTIP and CETA.

The conference brought to the fore an array of issues relating to the actorness of the EU in international economic law and it turned out to be a fruitful mix of speakers’ insights complemented by very lively and intense debates.