Court actions

Court actions

During the implementation of EU external action programmes, disputes can arise that may lead to court action. These disputes can relate to contractual or non-contractual claims.

Contractual claims

In the case of contractual claims, the underlying contract will determine the applicable dispute settlement procedure. The contract encourages parties to the contract to resolve the dispute amicably which is what occurs in most cases.

Court actions against the European Commission (direct management)

The clauses of external action contracts in which the European Commission is the contracting authority designate, as a rule, the Belgian courts in Brussels as the competent court for any contractual dispute.

These are, however, only general indications; the precise provisions of the contract with respect to dispute settlement have to be applied.

Court actions against the beneficiary third state (indirect management)

The clauses of EU financed external action contracts in which the administration of the beneficiary third state is the contracting authority, indicate that the contractual dispute is submitted, as last resort, to the decision of a national jurisdiction or to arbitration.

In the case of contracts financed from the European Development Fund (EDF) concluded with the administration of an ACP beneficiary third state, the way such arbitration proceedings are conducted is laid down in the Procedural Rules on Conciliation and Arbitration of Contracts Financed by the European Development Fund (EDF).

The contract encourages the parties to the contract to previously resolve the dispute amicably. In the absence of an amicable settlement, the parties may agree to the settlement of the dispute by conciliation.

These are, however, only general indications. The precise provisions of the contract with respect to dispute settlement have to be applied.

Non-contractual claims

The vast majority of court actions based on non-contractual claims are initiated by candidates or tenderers disagreeing with the outcome of an EU-financed contract award procedure.

Court actions against the European Commission

Plaintiffs against the European Commission may have recourse to the procedures established under EU legislation. The EU General Court has jurisdiction over acts of the Commission intended to produce legal effects, vis-à-vis third parties (Articles 256 and 263 of the EU Treaty).

For further details, please consult the website of the EU General Court.

Court actions against a beneficiary third state

Plaintiffs against a beneficiary third state may have recourse to procedures established under this state’s national legislation. This would for instance apply to the case of a contract award decision taken by a local administration.

Should such a contracting authority fail to adhere to the procurement procedures provided for in the Practical Guide to contract procedures, the Commission reserves the right to refuse to finance the contract or to suspend, withhold or recover funding for the contracts concerned.


  • The Practical Guide explains contracting procedures for EU external aid contracts financed by the EU general budget (Budget) and the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

    Consult PRAG

  • E-learning course on the Practical Guide. Do you want to know more about EU external action procedures? See our self-learning distance course on contractual procedures.

    e-Learning PRAG

  • e-Calls PROSPECT is the electronic system developed by EuropeAid to facilitate the submission of applications for call for proposals.

    e-Calls PROSPECT

  • Potential Applicant Data Online Registration database contains information on organisations applying for European Commission grants in the field of external assistance.

    e-Calls PADOR

  • Delegated Cooperation, Cooperation with partner countries and with international organisations, Co-financing and Management Modes.

    Consult DEVCO-Companion