The Haegeman judgment of 30 April 1974 was the first case in which the European Court of Justice was asked to provide an interpretation of a bilateral agreement concluded by the EEC with a non-Member State. The Ziebell judgment of 8 December 2011 is one of the recent preliminary rulings concerning the interpretation of the 1963 Association Agreement between the EEC and Turkey. With this more than 35 years of case-law on bilateral agreements, the Court has achieved a truly impressive record. Although initially not foreseen by the Founding Fathers of the EEC Treaty, the interpretation of bilateral agreements with non-Member States has become one of the very dynamic areas of judicial protection in the EU. In the first part of this contribution, “the formative years” of the Court’s case-law on direct effect of bilateral agreements are revisited, and it is seen that a rereading of “the basics” is not without discoveries and sometimes even surprises. Thereafter, the contribution examines in more detail where the case-law on direct effect of bilateral agreements stands today; and finally, in the last section, a few illustrations are given of the intense but often subtle interaction between direct effect and substantive law interpretation.


National Court Advocate General Bilateral Agreement Additional Protocol Preliminary Ruling 
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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Instituut 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

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