Whereas the consequences of the French and Dutch "no" to the referendums proposing the adoption of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe do not stop to rattle the European political class, the innovations it proposed are still dangling. Nonetheless, some major points have been brought forward and call to be lightened in order to remove the blur on institutions and complete the process of construction. Among these key issues, the problem of the European Union (EU)'s legal personality appears as an inevitable and polemical subject.
The treaty on the Constitution of Europe intended to correct the ambiguity of the EU's international status by granting it a unique and explicit legal personality. What does a legal personality imply for a structure as exceptional as the EU on the international stage? Before that, what is the topical situation and why should it change? Lastly, what about the future of the Constitution's project?
[...] In the case of the World Trade Organization for example, the European Community already belongs to the organization and the EU would simply succeed to the EC as a member. Eventually, granting the EU a legal personality would not deeply change the topical functioning of the EU. Member states would not be suddenly deprived of all their rights, they would not lose control over the EU. It would officially recognize a situation which already exists by the implicit reality of the international personality of the Union. [...]
[...] However, the treaty of Maastricht denied the EU this explicit legal personality creating in this way an ambiguous juridical status, internationally speaking, and a complex political system, affecting particularly the EU's external relations. In fact, the treaty establishes in Art. Union shall be founded on the European Communities, supplemented by the policies and forms of cooperation established by this Treaty”. Consequently, the EU cannot beneficiate from the Communities' international personality because it does not absorb the Communities, just as they do not absorb the EU. [...]
[...] These issues are both essential keys for a powerful EU in the future geopolitical order, able to ensure the permanence of our European beliefs and values in a more and more globalized world. Bibliography Books: - D. Allant, Droit international Public, PUF, Paris 2000 - J. Ziller, the European Constitution, kluwer Law International, Netherland - C. Hill and M. Smith, International Relations and the EU, Oxford University Press, New York Web sites: - La Convention Européenne, Point http://europa.eu.int/constitution/futurum/documents/offtext/doc011002_2_fr .pdf - Working Group III : legal personality : http://european-convention.eu.int/docs/wd3/1953.pdf - European Parliament: Report on the legal personality of the European Union: http://www.ena.lu/mce.cfm - Les Communautés et l'Union Européenne dans leurs relations extérieures. [...]
[...] Thus the Court of Justice of the European Communities is not for example authorized to rule on infringements of fundamental rights within the field of common foreign and security policy.” Furthermore, it is enlightening that this issue of legal personality gave birth, to a certain extent, to the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe. Actually, step by step, it becomes obvious for the Working Group III on the EU's personality that the Union and the Communities should be replaced by a unique personality and so by a unique organization. [...]
[...] Both the issues of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe and of the legal personality of the European Union (Art. 1-7 of this Treaty) cannot be avoided. They entail some crucial choices for the organization's future, especially on the international stage. The legal personality would contribute to rebalance the EU's foreign policy between the topical first pillar and the others. It would give the EU the juridical status it needs (and already implicitly has) and definitively relieve the potential confusion about its competences, role and power. [...]
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