Legal personality

Legal personality

The Lisbon Treaty established legal personality for the whole Union in he very important Art. 47 TEU. It replaced the European Community by a legally new European Union.

It abolished the existing pillar structure, thus bringing foreign policy and security, and crime, justice and home affairs -  which were previously inter-governmental, with States retaining their sovereignty -  either wholly or largely within the ambit of the new Union.

Treaties between the EU and the various sovereign States in the world can therefore now cover all policy areas and become the most important legal instrument in a globalised world with increasing scope for involving international law.

The EU can negotiate international agreements and sign treaties on behalf of all the EU member states.

International treaties signed by the Union will be directly binding and will have primacy over national laws and constitutions. Most such agreements can be concluded by qualified majority vote.

This makes the EU an independent international body, comparable in many ways to a State. From the inside the Union may still look like an arrangement between states, whereas from the outside it would look quite like a state itself.  


- The European Convention, "A Single Legal Personality for the European Union"

- European Convention: Final report of Working Group on Legal Personality