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The Mutual Assistance and Solidarity Clauses

Legal and Political Challenges of an Integrated EU Security System


Antonio-Maria Martino

The Mutual Assistance and Solidarity Clauses is the first comprehensive comparative analysis of two major innovations introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. Antonio-Maria Martino’s study focuses on the origins, scope, interpretation and technical aspects of both clauses, with a particular focus on the Solidarity Clause. He highlights the overlap between both provisions and the wide range of competences theoretically conferred upon the Union by the Solidarity Clause. The author also presents a critical outline of the negotiations with regard to the new Joint Proposal on the implementation of the Solidarity Clause by the Union, which will set out the framework for EU action in the event of a solidarity case.
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IV. Definition and Scope of the Mutual Assistance Clause


After numerous attempts to include the mutual defence obligation stemming from the WEU in EU primary law, the Lisbon Treaty finally incorporated a mutual aid and assistance clause in its Article 42(7) TEU75. Due to its location within the TEU in Section 2 on the CSDP, the Mutual Assistance Clause (sometimes also called ‘Mutual Defence Clause’)76 has a clear intergovernmental remit77. The Clause “can be described as purely intergovernmental in nature: it binds member states ‘horizontally’ without transferring any competence ‘vertically’ to EU institutions; nor does it require coordination at the EU level in situations when the mutual defence obligation is invoked. In a legal sense, Article 42.7 differs from most treaty provisions because it is only weakly associated with EU institutions and EU level capabilities.”78

Article 42 can be considered as a further development of the old Article 17 TEU (Treaty of Nice)79. Of all the different provisions in Article 42, it is worth mentioning paragraph (2) which reiterates the possible future common defence commitment introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht, whereas the ← 43 | 44 → Mutual Defence Clause in paragraph (7) is the directly applicable obligation to mutually assist in the event of armed aggression80.

IV.a. Definition

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