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The Amsterdam Treaty's introduction of Article 65 into the European Community Treaty took little time to achieve practical importance. In fact, the questions were practical as early as they were theoretical. A 1992 request by the United States that the Hague Conference on Private International Law negotiate a global convention on jurisdiction and the recognition of civil judgments resulted in a laboratory for the new-found competence of the Community. Thus, negotiations already underway--which included delegations from all 15 EU Member States--were affected significantly by the transfer of competence from those states to the Community institutions for matters under consideration at The Hague.

The transfer of competence for judicial cooperation resulted in tensions internal to the Community and at the same time changed the dynamics at the Hague Conference, where other delegations were left for several years to consider just what the source of authority was for potential conclusion of a global treaty that would be effective in the Community. This article traces the history of the negotiations at The Hague, considers the parallel changes on the same issues within the Community, and reviews from a U.S. perspective the resulting cross-currents. While the evolution of Community competence concurrent with ongoing negotiations at The Hague caused uncertainty for negotiators, it also served to highlight the developing role of the European Union as a player in an area previously untouched by Community institutions on an external basis. It also tested the global role of the Hague Conference as a traditionally Euro-centric organization that now must expand its reach in order to remain viable when private international law for Europe will be developed in Brussels. Finally, it accented further the differences in conceptual approaches to judicial jurisdiction, especially between the United States and continental civil law systems. In doing so, it demonstrated that Community competence for external relations in judicial cooperation requires special attention to the relationship between the United States and the European Union.