The module highlights the main features of the legal and institutional framework for the European Union (EU) external relations. Even though the EU has become an important international actor who is involved in many levels of treaties’ conclusion and foreign relations in the international sphere, the nature of the exercise of its external relations is legally a unique one, due to the fact that its international legal personality co-exists with the one of its member states. This legal perplexity affects the way and the degree to which the EU achieves the status of a global actor.


Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • understand the principles of EU external relations law.
  • use the knowledge of how the international legal rule enters the EU legal order, binds its member states and confers rights to the individuals that they can, under certain conditions, invoke before EU and national courts.
  • discuss the major issues and the latest developments in EU foreign policy and international relations.
  • interpret legal sources and literature in the field of EU external relations law.
  • apply such knowledge in complex conflict resolution cases in the international level, in which the EU is a party.



Topics discussed comprise issues pertaining to the EU’s competence to conclude international agreements and the legal procedure of negotiating and concluding international agreements by the EU; the nature and position of international law rules as a source of law in the EU legal order: their binding nature and hierarchy; their direct effect and interpretation; the judicial review and interpretation of such rules in the EU legal order. The course particularly concentrates on mixed agreements, and on the issue of the international obligations of the Member States before their accession to the EU. It also covers EU as a member of international organizations: the example of WTO; it discusses the interaction between the EU and the international community in the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP); the European Neighbourhood Policy and Development Policy and, most importantly, the relationship between the EU and the ECHR.

Academic Requirements

Participants are required to have at least some basic previous knowledge of EU Law, as well as Public International Law.

Teaching method

The course will run under seminar format, which requires a high degree of student participation. A power-point presentation will be used in the teaching of each lecture, and out of class the students will be required to read relative academic articles indicated by the lecturer, which will help them deepen their knowledge. Participants to the classes will also be supported through the discussion of important case-law, as well as by other related legal materials such as international treaties concluded by the EU.


The course is taught by Assistant Professor Manolis Perakis.

Assessment and testing

  • Written exam, closed book, essay questions in the form of practical cases - 2 hours (80%)
  • Class participation (20%)