CASE LAW: On the Boundaries between the European Union’s First Pillar and Second Pillar: a Comment on the ECOWAS Judgment of the European Court of Justice

15 Colum. J. Eur. L. 531 (2009)

Peter Van Elsuwege. Assistant Professor, Ghent University (Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence).

In its judgment in Commission v. Council (C-91/05), delivered on May 20, 2008, the European Court of Justice annulled Council Decision 2004/833/CFSP, Providing a European Union Contribution to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the Framework of the Moratorium on Small Arms and Light Weapons. Based on Article 47 EU, the Court concluded that the contested Decision, which pursues objectives not only falling within Common Foreign and Security Policy but also Community development cooperation policy, should have been adopted under the EC Treaty and not the EU Treaty. This judgment confirms the hierarchic relationship between the first Pillar and the second Pillar of the European Union. It is argued that the Court’s interpretation of Article 47 EU significantly limits the scope for CFSP actions in practice and poses significant challenges for the objective of inter-Pillar coherence in the EU’s external relations.