On 11 December, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Appellate Body will essentially stop functioning, as it is no longer able to take on any new appeals.
This is a regrettable and very serious blow to the international rules-based trade system, which, for the past 24 years, has relied on the WTO's Appellate Body – and dispute settlement generally.
This is a critical moment for multilateralism and for the global trading system. With the Appellate Body removed from the equation, we have lost an enforceable dispute settlement system that has been an independent guarantor – for large and small economies alike – that the WTO's rules are applied impartially.
The European Union remains a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system and firmly believes that a WTO with an effective dispute settlement system is indispensable for ensuring open and fair trade.
The world has changed over the last 24 years and the WTO needs to reflect the changing environment to remain relevant and operational. A comprehensive package of reforms needs to be implemented right across the WTO's three functions: as a producer of trade rules, as a monitor of countries' trade policies and practices, and not least, its dispute resolution function. The EU has been at the forefront of this process, making detailed proposals and engaging constructively with our WTO partners and will continue to do so.
In anticipation of the suspension of the functioning of the Appellate Body, the EU proposed interim appeal arrangements to those partners who are willing to continue to resolve disputes in a binding way in respect of the WTO rules.
The European Commission will soon unveil further proposals to make sure that the EU can continue to enforce its rights in international trade matters should others block the system.