The Single European Act (SEA) consists of two ostensibly unrelated sets of provisions, both of which are intended to contribute to unification among members of the European Communities. Perhaps the major, and most widely publicized, provisions of the SEA consist of amendments to the Treaty of Rome (EEC Treaty). The remaining provisions of the SEA, predominately title III, formalize the system of European Political Cooperation (EPC) within the member states.
Although not widely written about, or perhaps appreciated in this country, EPC has become an efficient system for coordinating foreign affairs positions within the European Economic Community (EPC). The EEC Treaty, as one of its aims, fosters a closer political union among its member states. The framework of the EEC, however, does not fully provide the means for establishing a political union. EPC was designed as an extra-treaty mechanism to facilitate union in foreign affairs. Toward that end, the Community and its member states have informally evolved EPC procedures over the last fifteen years.
In title III of the SEA, the member states have established a new system for cooperation in foreign affairs. Although title III is not the dominant portion of the SEA, the changes it makes in the EPC process are extremely significant. Title III and the process it creates represent a continuation of the uniquely ambivalent modus by which the member states have reached agreements in foreign affairs in the past. Further, title III greatly enhances the status of EPC in contributing toward European unification since its structure and process are elevated to a series of treaty commitments. This change attests to the regard that member states hold EPC and presumably to the role they intend it to play in the future.
The purpose of this Article is to examine the pressures which led to the change in EPC and to consider how this system will function in the future. This Article begins with a discussion of EPC before the SEA and then reviews the origins of title III and the SEA. Next, the Article analyzes the process of EPC after the SEA. Finally, this Article considers the impact of the SEA on EPC in the future.
Daniel T. Murphy, European Political Cooperation After the Single European Act: The Future of Foreign Affairs in the European Communities, 12 B. C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 335 (1989)