Agreements with other Countries

Working discussions between Robert Zoellick, US trade representative, and Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy in 2002 (Photo: European Commission)

Agreements with other Countries

The Lisbon Treaty Article 47 TEU gives the EU status as a "legal person" capable of entering agreements and negotiating and signing treaties as if it is a state in all areas where the EU is able to legislate. 

In other areas, member states may still enter into international agreements on their own.  

Article 8 TEU in particular states that, in order to develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, the Union may conclude specific agreements with them. 

These agreements may contain reciprocal rights and obligations as well as the possibility of undertaking activities jointly. 

Before the Lisbon Treaty the EU and the member states could make agreements with other countries as well. The EU could enter into agreements on behalf of the member states for some but not all issues. It could sign treaties and agreements when it had legal personality

Before Lisbon the European Union did not yet have a full legal personality. It was the supranational European Community which had that. If the EU wanted to sign an agreement, all member states often had to sign also. Following the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 the European Union replaced the European Community. It took over all the powers of the latter and these were extended to include the previous "inter-governmental" areas of Justice and Home Affairs and Foreign and Security Policy.



The Lisbon Treaty require a formal "consent" from the European Parliament in all important international agreements, see Article 218.6 TFEU. 

See also

Bilateral Agreements Switzerland - EU