The issuing of Opinion 2/13 on the European Union’s (EU’s) accession to the European Convention on Human Rights by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), followed by Case C- 284/16 Achmea and Opinion 1/17 on the compatibility with EU law of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA), brought the concept of the autonomy of the EU legal order to the persistent limelight of scholarly attention. An important yet unanswered question that arises in the light of the CJEU’s case law is to what extent the concept of the autonomy of the EU legal order or its specific application by the CJEU has been outlived in the context of EU external relations. Closely connected to the expansion of the EU’s normative influence globally and in its neighbourhood is the necessity to set up effective institutional and procedural frameworks, including judicial protection mechanisms. The keen protection of the autonomy of the EU legal order in such instances conflicts sharply with the Union’s interests and foreign policy strategies and may well warrant a review of the current paradigm of the autonomy of the EU legal order. This article provides a critical account of the compatibility of the concept of autonomy as developed by the CJEU over the past several decades with the Union’s aspirations as a normative superpower.