Volume 54 (2017) / Issue 6
Cristina Contartese, 'The autonomy of the EU legal order in the ECJs external relations case law: From the essential to the specific characteristics of the Union and back again' (2017) 54 Common Market Law Review, Issue 6, pp. 1627–1671
Notwithstanding the abundant literature on the external dimension of EU autonomy, the meaning of the term still appears “nebulous”. The purpose of this article is to shed light on its elements through a close examination of the expressions that accompany the notion of “autonomy” in the ECJ’s case law, such as “very foundations”, “very nature”, “essential characteristics” and “specific characteristics” of the EU and EU law. It will be shown that autonomy is closely intertwined with the notions of “essential characteristics” and the “very foundations” of the EU legal order and that, accordingly, only an impact on those elements undermines its autonomy. Nevertheless, in Opinion 2/13, the Court applied such a broad interpretation of its previous case law on autonomy as to leave unsettled the identification of its limits. Autonomy still remains, in sum, partially “nebulous”.
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