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Of Presidents, High Representatives and European Commissioners – the external representation of the European Union seven years after Lisbon *

Europe and the World: A law review

UCL Press

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      The article reviews the external representation of the European Union. Hoffmeister first analyses the rules established by the Lisbon Treaty (2007). He emphasizes the division between the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and non-CFSP and the importance of the diplomatic level. Moreover, he interprets recent case law in which the European Court of Justice has given guidance to the Council and the Commission about their respective roles in policy-making and representation. The author then provides extensive case studies on Iran, Ukraine, trade negotiations and environmental negotiations to track down relevant practice of the last seven years. He concludes that Europe continues to operate a multi-layered system of external representation, where supra-national elements with a strong role of the Commission in important areas are combined with inter-governmental traits of a principal–agent relationship between the Council and its President or the High Representative.

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      Europe and the World: A law review
      UCL Press
      1 June 2017
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      This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

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      Dr Iur, Professor at the Free University, Brussels. Email: For the case studies on Iran and the Ukraine in section 4, I would like to warmly thank Mrs Charlotte Berends for extensive research and analysis. Important details from the practice of the EU’s environmental diplomacy I owe to the Academic Director of the Institute for European Studies (Brussels), Prof Sebastian Oberthür. The article also benefited from a couple of interviews held with the former Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and high EEEAS officials on matters touched upon in this article.

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