European Commission adopts mandate to extend interim appeal arbitration arrangement

BRUSSELS: The European Commission today adopted a decision laying the groundwork to deal with the consequences of a possible blockage of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body, the highest instance of WTO dispute resolution.

This decision will enable the Commission to enter into interim appeal arbitration arrangements with third countries based on existing World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The decision follows the agreement between the EU and Canada on 25 July 2019 on an interim appeal arbitration arrangement and is motivated by the current blockage in the WTO Appellate Body. If the current impasse persists, the Appellate Body will be unable to hear new appeals after 10 December 2019.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmströmsaid: “The EU is committed to the rules-based international order and a functioning World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement system. We will continue to work on solutions to modernise and strengthen the WTO and to restore an operational Appellate Body as soon as possible. But until that happens, we have to be sure that we can preserve our rights in WTO disputes.”

“We already have an agreement in place with Canada, and today’s decision will allow us to move forward with other willing partners too,” Malmström added.

With today’s decision, the European Commission authorised the EU Commissioner for Trade to enter into interim appeal arbitration arrangements with third countries whenever necessary. Such interim agreements would apply to disputes between the EU and the trade partner in the event that the Appellate Body is unable to hear appeals and will remain in effect until the Appellate Body is operational.

Edited by Kazim Rizvi

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