ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA:
If the EU understands correctly, the US is not ready to accept this panel request by Venezuela as being valid, as it was submitted by a government which the US no longer recognises as the legitimate government representing Venezuela.
In fact, in this case, the EU would have expected the US to rely on the security exceptions in Article XXI of the GATT and Article XIVbis of the GATS for justifying any departures from basic GATT and GATS provisions that may lie in the measures taken against Venezuela.
Indeed, we note that the United States measures at issue appear justified by the security exceptions, so the challenge at issue cannot in any event succeed.
All this being said, the EU has to react for systemic reasons and express its concern at the prospect of the DSB being prevented from holding its meeting on all items of today’s agenda simply because that agenda is not adopted.
There is a longstanding and widely recognised principle that DSB agendas cannot be blocked to the extent that they include items governed by negative consensus. This includes first panel requests (governed by consensus), since they are a necessary pre-condition to a second panel request. This principle is of utmost importance because the binding nature of WTO dispute settlement rests on it.
That said, the EU expects this meeting to be suspended now, as a result of the US objection to the agenda adoption. This should allow the Chairperson and the WTO Members most involved to consult in search of a solution. The EU hopes that these efforts will rapidly yield a solution, so that this meeting can continue and the DSB discharge the important duties with which it is entrusted.