Article 3(5) TEU a decade on : revisiting ‘strict observance of international law’ in the text and context of other EU values

Dunbar, Rupert (2021) Article 3(5) TEU a decade on : revisiting ‘strict observance of international law’ in the text and context of other EU values. Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, ISSN (print) 2399-5548 (Epub Ahead of Print)

Abstract

Article 3(5) of the Treaty on the European Union concerns EU external relations and was a new provision of the Lisbon Treaty. It has been seized upon by scholars for its reference to ‘strict observance of international law’ by the EU in its relations with the wider world. However, recent case law in the Court of Justice of the European Union has demonstrated little movement towards this supposed ideal. This article supports the fact that rigid and unquestioning adherence to international law has not emerged in case law, particularly as Article 3(5) TEU also mandates that the Union ‘uphold and promote its values and interests’. By taking a broader view of both the text and context of Article 3(5) TEU in EU law as a whole, and through consideration of the limited demands international law places on domestic courts, the article argues that – contrary to current literature – a more expressly balanced approach towards respect for international law is required and should be nurtured in the case law.

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