Coherence in EU External Relations: Concepts and Legal Rooting of an Ambiguous Term

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Series Details Vol.18, Issue 3, August 2013, p373–388
Publication Date August 2013
ISSN 1384-6299
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Coherence has become the buzzword in EU studies. However, what exactly is policy coherence and how is it advanced by EU law? This article attempts to bridge the political science and legal debate on this ambiguous term. First, it critically analyses notions on coherence and consistency to find common ground in the seemingly confusing academic debate. On this basis, this article subsequently enquires into the promotion of these different notions by EU law. The focus is on the EU's external relations; arguably the most salient area for policy coherence in EU governance. The article argues that the theoretical debate sometimes lacks cross-fertilization and that conceptual fuzziness persists. The conceptual groundwork allows for analysing how primary law, and especially its interpretation by the Court, advances consistency and coherence in different ways. Albeit also marked by underdeveloped conceptual clarity, the Court's case law shows that several duties in EU law reinforce consistency and coherence in EU external relations.

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