Reconsidering multilingualism in EU trade and investment agreements in light of the relocation case

Alessandra Pietrobon, Tarcisio Gazzini

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Trade and investment agreements between the European Union (EU), its Member States and third states are currently concluded in 23 or 24 equally authoritative texts. Only the treaty recently concluded with Japan gives priority to the text in the language of the negotiations (English). The article argues that the interpretation of a treaty concluded in such large number of equally authentic texts is fraught with difficulties both in international law and in EU law, as demonstrated in the Relocation Case. It suggests that the EU and its Member States should reconsider the current practice and identifies the different options available and their respective advantages. The crux of the matter is how to strike a balance between the principle of multilingualism, which is fundamental in the European project, and the need to ensure the predictability and coherence of treaty interpretation. It is argued that such a balance may be struck by significantly reducing the number of authentic texts and giving priority to one of them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-78
Number of pages36
JournalEuropean Journal of Legal Studies
Issue number2
Early online date31 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • Treaty interpretation
  • European union
  • Trade
  • Investment
  • Arbitration
  • Trade agreements
  • European Union
  • Investment treaties
  • Multilingual treaties
  • Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

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