September 18
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Anjum Shabbir
2nd September 2021
External Relations & Trade

Council of the EU used incorrect legal basis in Decisions to regulate Partnership Council for EU-Armenia Agreement: Court of Justice annuls the Decisions

The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice has decided to annul two Decisions of the Council of the EU setting out the implementation of the Partnership Council for the partnership agreement between the EU and Armenia (CEPA), in an inter-institutional legal dispute between the European Commission and Council of the EU – Commission v Council (C-180/20).

The European Commission had by its action disputed the Council’s splitting of legal bases and competences into two Decisions, for the purpose of adopting the rules of procedure for the Partnership Council: Decision 2020/245 is based on Articles 91, 207 and 209 TFEU, in the fields of transport, trade and development – and was adopted by qualified majority; Decision 2020/246 is based on Article 37 TEU and covers cooperation in CFSP policy – and was adopted by unanimity.

The Court has decided that the partnership agreement’s links with the CFSP are insufficient to constitute ‘an autonomous component’ that could justify the substantive CFSP legal basis of Article 37 TEU and Article 218(8) TFEU as the procedural legal basis for Decision 2020/246. It recalled that the legal basis of the external action of the EU at issue must be assessed with regard to the agreement as a whole, as those decisions concern, overall, the functioning of the international bodies created on the basis of the Partnership Agreement with Armenia.

Nor did it find that there was any justification for splitting the regulation of the Partnership Council into two Decisions: the agreement does not contain distinct components corresponding to the different legal bases used for the adoption of those decisions.

It therefore also annulled Decision 2020/245, because it does not relate to the position to be adopted on behalf of the EU within the Partnership Council established by the Armenia Agreement – already being covered by Title II of that agreement. The Court noted that ‘the provisions comprising that title do not constitute a distinct component of that agreement that obliged the Council to use, inter alia, Article 37 TEU and the second subparagraph of Article 218(8) TFEU as a basis for establishing that same position’, and therefore, ‘there was nothing to justify the Council excluding the position in question from the object of Decision 2020/245, in so far as it covers the application of Title II of that same agreement and adopting a separate decision pursuant to Article 218(9) TFEU, which has as its object the establishment of that position in so far as it covers that same application’.

The effects of the annulled Decisions will remain in place until a new Decision has been adopted.

Read the CJEU’s press release here, and the judgment here.

An Op-Ed by Andrés Delgado on the ruling will be published soon.


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