Monday, 2 February 2009

EU cooperation with third countries

The European Community (European Union) cooperates with third countries in a variety of areas, which has resulted in a plethora of international agreements.

The EU Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the provision on economic, financial and technical cooperation and strengthens the role of the European Parliament to some extent.

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Current treaty

Since the Treaty of Nice entered into force, Article 181a of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) has provided for cooperation with countries outside the European Union, third countries other than developing countries (catered for in Title XX).

The cooperation is described in general terms as economic, financial and technical.

The general objectives of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms are mentioned.


Since the Treaty of Nice the Council is generally able to adopt measures by qualified majority voting (QMV), but the European Parliament is only consulted.


Unanimity is required for the association agreements with states or international organisations and for the agreements to be concluded with the states on the last laps for membership as candidates for accession to the Union.

The European Community can conclude international agreements, but the EC and the member states have parallel powers.

Here is Article 181a TEC, as published in the latest consolidated version of the treaties, OJEU 29.12.2006 C 321 E/127:


TITLE XXI
ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION WITH THIRD COUNTRIES

Article 181a TEC

1. Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Treaty, and in particular those of Title XX, the Community shall carry out, within its spheres of competence, economic, financial and technical cooperation measures with third countries. Such measures shall be complementary to those carried out by the Member States and consistent with the development policy of the Community.

Community policy in this area shall contribute to the general objective of developing and consolidating democracy and the rule of law, and to the objective of respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

2. The Council, acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, shall adopt the measures necessary for the implementation of paragraph 1. The Council shall act unanimously for the association agreements referred to in Article 310 and for the agreements to be concluded with the States which are candidates for accession to the Union.

3. Within their respective spheres of competence, the Community and the Member States shall cooperate with third countries and the competent international organisations. The arrangements for Community cooperation may be the subject of agreements between the Community and the third parties concerned, which shall be negotiated and concluded in accordance with Article 300.

The first subparagraph shall be without prejudice to the Member States' competence to negotiate in international bodies and to conclude international agreements.


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Original Lisbon Treaty

Article 2, point 165 of the original Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) inserted a new Chapter 2 on economic, financial and technical cooperation with third countries, and Article 2, point 166 amended Article 181a, which became Article 188h, OJEU 17.12.2007 C 306/94–95:

ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION WITH THIRD COUNTRIES

165) A Chapter 2 ‘ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION WITH THIRD COUNTRIES’ shall be inserted, taking over the heading of Title XXI of Part 3.

166) An Article 188 H shall be inserted, with the wording of Article 181a; it shall be amended as follows:

(a) paragraph 1 shall be replaced by the following:

‘1. Without prejudice to the other provisions of the Treaties, and in particular Articles 188 D to 188 G, the Union shall carry out economic, financial and technical cooperation measures, including assistance, in particular financial assistance, with third countries other than developing countries. Such measures shall be consistent with the development policy of the Union and shall be carried out within the framework of the principles and objectives of its external action. The Union's operations and those of the Member States shall complement and reinforce each other.’;

(b) paragraph 2 shall be replaced by the following:

‘2. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt the measures necessary for the implementation of paragraph 1.’;

(c) at the end of the second sentence of the first subparagraph of paragraph 3, the words ‘, which shall be negotiated and concluded in accordance with Article 300’ shall be deleted.


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Consolidated Lisbon Treaty

With a feeling of relief we turn to the consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), where Article 188h has become Article 212 and been given a readable form, OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/142:

CHAPTER 2
ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION WITH THIRD COUNTRIES

Article 212 TFEU
(ex Article 181a TEC)

1. Without prejudice to the other provisions of the Treaties, and in particular Articles 208 to 211, the Union shall carry out economic, financial and technical cooperation measures, including assistance, in particular financial assistance, with third countries other than developing countries. Such measures shall be consistent with the development policy of the Union and shall be carried out within the framework of the principles and objectives of its external action. The Union's operations and those of the Member States shall complement and reinforce each other.

2. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall adopt the measures necessary for the implementation of paragraph 1.

3. Within their respective spheres of competence, the Union and the Member States shall cooperate with third countries and the competent international organisations. The arrangements for Union cooperation may be the subject of agreements between the Union and the third parties concerned.

The first subparagraph shall be without prejudice to the Member States' competence to negotiate in international bodies and to conclude international agreements.


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Lisbon Treaty changes

The Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the meaning of ‘third countries’ in this context by saying that they are other than developing countries, to which the provisions on development cooperation apply. These policy areas still have to be consistent.

The relations between the European Union and the member states are given a more positive slant. They shall complement and reinforce each other.

The second TEC subparagraph of paragraph 1 on democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms has been dropped and replaced by the reference to the framework of the principles and objectives of the EU’s external action (Chapter 1 of Title V of the Treaty on European Union; Articles 21 and 22 TEU).


The role of the European Parliament is strengthened by the introduction of the ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision) replacing consultation.

There is no mention of the separate (unanimous) procedure concerning the association agreements or the agreements to be concluded with the States which are candidates for accession to the Union, but these are provided for in Articles 207 and 208 TFEU (with consent of the European Parliament for association agreements and possibly on other grounds).

The wording of the scope – economic, financial and technical cooperation – remains the same, but if there is a special legal base for international cooperation measures this is applied (for instance trade).


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International agreements

Normally the international agreements would be called (and are) treaties. But presumably to make the distinction clearer, the TEU and the TEC reserve the term Treaty for themselves and refer to other treaties as international agreements. Hence, on Eur-Lex you find the page International agreements, which allows you to look under classification headings and subject matter:


http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/accords/accords.htm



Ralf Grahn