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The Jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice to Give Preliminary Rulings on the Interpretation of Mixed Agreements

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

This article is about the scope of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice to interpret, under Article 234 of the EC Treaty, international agreements which include among their contracting parties the European Community, all or some of its Member States and one or more other subjects of international law and which fall partly within the competence of the Community and partly within the competence of the Member States (so-called ‘mixed agreements’). In particular, the article addresses the question of whether, and if so to what extent, the Court's jurisdiction covers those provisions of mixed agreements which have been concluded under Member State powers. New light has been shed upon the question of jurisdiction by the Court's judgment in Case C-53/96 Hermès v. FHT concerning the interpretation of Article 50 of the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) annexed to the 1994 Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) – the first case where the jurisdiction issue is addressed by the Court outside the context of association agreements. The article analyses the judgment and its implications in the light of both the Court's earlier case law and the legal and policy considerations at stake when the scope of the Court's jurisdiction is determined.

Affiliations: 1: Legislative Secretary, Ministry of Justice (European Law Unit), Finland


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