EPC and the single act : from soft law to hard law?
Title: EPC and the single act : from soft law to hard law?
Citation: Martin HOLLAND (ed.), The future of European political cooperation : essays on theory and practice, London : Macmillan, 1991, pp. 121-142
ISBN: 9780333524114; 9781349217526
Has the Single Act really changed European Political Cooperation (EPC)? Words, when skillfully used, can mean a lot in the world of lawyers. Thus, the fairly general heading of Title III of the Single Act – ‘Treaty Provisions on European Cooperation in the Sphere of Foreign Policy’ – may be seen as encapsulating both the importance and the limits of the changes introduced by that part of the Act. The reference to ‘Treaty provisions’ suggests that the ‘High Contracting Parties’ – as, significantly, the member states of the European Community are called in that part of the Act – intended to give legal value to the commitments therein contained. At the same time, the use of an expression like ‘cooperation in the sphere of foreign policy’, which was preferred to the more integrated (and Community-like) ‘common foreign policy’, clearly indicates that their intention was not to alter radically the set of procedures which have characterised EPC from its inception. One could therefore argue that we find in the very heading of Title III the essence of the changes contained in that part of the Act: a formal ‘legalisation’ of a process which was not hitherto regarded as legally binding, but no substantive transformation of its functioning, if one excludes the long awaited creation of a Secretariat.
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