Today, the European Commission unveiled a proposal that will allow the European Union to protect its trade interests despite the paralysis of the multilateral dispute settlement system in the World Trade Organization (WTO). To further increase the focus on compliance and enforcement of the EU's trade agreements, the Commission created today the position of Chief Trade Enforcement Officer.
Today's proposal to amend the existing Enforcement Regulation comes as a direct reaction to the blockage yesterday of the operations of the WTO Appellate Body. The current regulation – a basis under EU law for adopting trade countermeasures – requires that a dispute go all the way through the WTO procedures, including the appeal stage, before the Union can react. The lack of a functioning WTO Appellate Body allows WTO Members to avoid their obligations andescape a binding ruling by simply appealing a panel report.
The Commission's proposal will enable the EU to react even if the WTO is not delivering a final ruling at the appellate level because the other WTO member blocks the dispute procedure by appealing into the void.