[CLEER conference] Informal law-making in EU external relations: challenges and prospects

08 April 2021
  • Starts at: 09:15h
  • Fee: Free
  • Venue: Zoom
  • Organiser: T.M.C. Asser Instituut
  •   Register


On April 8, 2021, between 09:15 and 14.30, the Centre for the Law of EU External Relations (CLEER) will hold an (online) conference on ‘Informal Law-making in EU external relations: challenges and prospects’. The conference will focus on the increasing use of informal instruments in EU external relations and the problems this might cause. It will feature keynote speeches by Jan Klabbers (University of Helsinki) and Fabien Terpan (Science Po Grenoble) as well as concluding remarks by Paula Garcia Andrade (Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Madrid). Sign up here to join.

One of the staples of modern global governance is the rise of informality. The proliferation of new actors, processes and instruments that escape the narrow confines of traditional ‘law’ has led to increased engagement with non-binding instruments – in their infinite variety.

Informal law instruments in EU external relations may bear various labels, including Joint Communications, Joint Letters, Strategies, Arrangements, Progress Reports, Programmes or Memoranda of Understanding. Some classic examples include the use of joint action plans in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as other informal tools in policies such as the environment and energy.

Proliferation of informal arrangements
More recently, the use of informal instruments in the field of EU migration and asylum policy has attracted considerable attention, as the examples of the EU-Turkey deal and the emergence and proliferation of mobility partnerships and informal readmission arrangements attest to. But we find informal instruments in almost all policy areas of EU external relations, including security and trade.

Not without problems
At the same time, the increased informalisation of EU external relations is not without problems. The choice to act outside the prescribed framework for concluding binding arrangements raises fundamental questions of legitimacy and rule of law. This shift to informality may facilitate the creation of a parallel world of instruments and norms - thereby facilitating the circumvention of questions of competence and threatening legal certainty.

In this light, this conference will explore the multifaceted challenges that arise from the increased use of informal instruments in the field of EU external relations.

The programme is available here.

Register here.

CLEER is a unique repository of legal expertise bridging practitioners with academia, and merging practice with theory. As a network, coordinated by the Asser Institute, CLEER is an academic platform for research coordination and cooperation, linking world-leading EU external relations experts from distinguished universities and institutions in the Netherlands and in Europe.

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