The Relationship between EU Law and International Law

30 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2013 Last revised: 16 Oct 2014

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Date Written: December 30, 2013


How do EU law and international law interact? Is the relationship between EU law and international law different from the relationship between general international law and one of its specialised legal orders, for example the relationship between international law and the law of the sea? In other words, is the question of the relationship only one about the fragmentation of international law? Are the rules of interaction between the legal orders just ‘technical’ conflict rules in this context? Or are the rules of interaction between the international and the EU legal order which has been described as an autonomous legal order, akin to rules that govern the interaction between international law and national legal orders? Elements of both the international and the constitutional paradigms are reflected in most areas of EU law. But they are particularly prominent when analysing the relationship between international and EU law, a topic that has enjoyed increasing attention in recent years. In this paper, firstly, the more formal basis for the relationship is considered by looking at the international law framework of EU law before, secondly, looking at the relationship between the two legal orders and the realities of the relationship as expressed in the status of international law within the EU legal order.

Keywords: EU Law, Public International Law, international law, EU law, human rights, monism, dualism, direct effect, conform interpretation, fragmentation of international law, pluralism, sui generis legal order, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

Suggested Citation

Ziegler, Katja S., The Relationship between EU Law and International Law (December 30, 2013). University of Leicester School of Law Research Paper No. 13-17, Available at SSRN: or

Katja S. Ziegler (Contact Author)

Leicester Law School ( email )

University Road
Leicester LE1 7RH, LE1 7RH
United Kingdom

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