The Case of Implied External Powers – The History of Pragmatism in the EU’s External Relations Law

The Case of Implied Powers in External Relations – A History of Pragmatism

  • Budai Péter
doi: 10.32559/et.2023.3.5


EU external relations law is not very much at the centre of the Hungarian EU legal discourse, so the matter of implied external competences may seem almost mystical. However, it is not mysterious at all, its development is rather evidence of the presence of pragmatism in the development of EU law, as the implied external powers were even used to extend competences in the period of the EEC. The aim the paper is to show how this pragmatism has been manifested from time to time in the development of the implied external competences. To do so, the paper also draws on Sinclair’s theory, who sees the phenomenon of the expansion of powers in the law of international organisations as a coherent process in some cases. Accordingly, the article describes case C-22/70. Commission v. Council (ERTA), including the main arguments made in the case, and the relevant circumstances as well. This is followed by the explanation of the expansion of the implied powers to highlight the appearance of its different aspects involved. Finally, the paper points out a “dialogue” that has been developed between the Member States and the Court of Justice during the process of the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon reforms.


European Union law EU external relations law implied external powers ERTA development of law


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