Common commercial policy, Articles 206 and 207 TFEU

The basis for the common commercial policy (CCP) is the establishment, in accordance with Articles 28—32 TFEU, of a customs union. That includes not only the prohibition between Member States of customs duties on imports and exports and of all charges having equivalent effect, but also the adoption of a common customs tariff in their relations with third countries. The customs union shall contribute to the harmonious development of world trade, the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade and on foreign direct investment, and the lowering of customs and other barriers (Art 206 TFEU). According to Article 207, the CCP shall be based on uniform principles, inter alia with regard to changes in tariff rates, the conclusion of trade agreements relating to trade in goods and services, the achievement of uniformity in measures of liberalisation, and export policy. It is for the EP and the Council to adopt the measures defining the framework for implementing the CCP in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.

There is no explicit requirement regarding environmental considerations in the CCP but, as for other policy areas, it follows from Article 11 TFEU that environmental protection requirements must be integrated, when relevant, into policies and activities forming part of the CCP.

As previously noted, the CCP is among the areas in which the EU has exclusive competence (Art 3 TFEU). Once it has been established that an issue falls within the area of the CCP there is hence no need to discuss division of competence between the Union and its Member States.

The relationship between the CCP and environmental policy becomes pertinent particularly in relation to the regulation of potentially hazardous substances or products, such as waste, chemicals, and GMOs. An example is provided by Regulation 649/2012 concerning the export and import of hazardous chemicals, which is based on both Article 192(1) and Article 207, that is, environmental policy and the CCP.[1] [2] [3]

The Court of Justice has entertained a number of cases concerning the relationship between these legal bases in the context of the approval and implementation of international agreements^8 It has held that the mere fact that an EU act is liable to have implications for international trade is not enough to conclude that it must fall within the CCP. To do so it should relate specifically to international trade in that it is essentially intended to promote, facilitate, or govern trade and has direct and immediate effects on trade.169

  • [1] Regulation (EU) No 649/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning theexport and import of hazardous chemicals [2012] OJ L 201/60.
  • [2] 68 See, eg, Case C-94/03 Commission v CouncilECLI:EU:C:2006:2; Opinion 2/00 of 6 December2001 ECLI:EU:C:2001:664, C-178/03 Commission v Parliament and Council ECLI:EU:C:2006:4,and Case C-411/06 Commission v Parliament and CouncilECLI:EU:C:2009:518.
  • [3] Opinion 2/00 (n 68), para 40.
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