Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction

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Customs Unions: Trade Law’s Forgotten Child

By Michal Ovádek|  

Until customs unions (CUs) started to make headlines in British newspapers following the UK’s decision to depart from the EU, there has been little public or legal-academic interest in the concept, perhaps with the exception of Turkey whose estimation of its CU with the EU has decreased in proportion with the probability of its joining the Union. Has the disinterest been warranted? Not quite – more than 110 countries around the world are members of at least one CU and the concept dates back to at least 19th century Germany, where it played a part in German unification. In a recent research project, my colleague Ines Willemyns and I have looked at the state of international law governing CUs in a bid to contribute to the understanding of this particular form of regional economic integration, not least because it has been a source of considerable confusion in the Brexit discourse.

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