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Dolores Utrilla
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13th April 2020
External Relations & Trade

Council adopts position on amending EU Enforcement Regulation in view of WTO Appellate Body’s paralysis

European ambassadors meeting in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) have approved the Council’s position on the proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation 654/2014 concerning the exercise of the EU’s rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules.

The existing EU Enforcement Regulation sets out a common legislative framework for the enforcement of the EU’s rights under international trade agreements. The current paralysis of the WTO Appellate Body makes it necessary to update the existing rules in order to allow the Commission to take action in a situation in which dispute settlement procedures are blocked.

The proposed amendments would create the possibility of imposing sanctions such as customs duties, quantitative restrictions on imports or exports of goods, and measures in the area of public procurement, in cases where the EU has obtained a favourable ruling from a WTO dispute settlement panel but the process is procedurally blocked by the other party.

The Council position results from a Commission proposal, to which a review clause has been added calling on the Commission to assess the functioning of the new rules and the potential need to extend them to services and intellectual property rights at the latest within three years from adoption of the Regulation.

This Council position will be the basis for the Presidency to negotiate with the European Parliament. A qualified majority is needed for adoption by the Council, in agreement with the European Parliament.

The Commission’s proposal is available here.

This response to the current WTO’s situation comes in parallel with the recent agreement by the EU and 15 other WTO members on a Multiparty Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement that will allow them to bring appeals and solve trade disputes among them despite the current paralysis of the WTO Appellate Body, as reported here and explained by Holger Hestermeyer in an Op-Ed for EU Law Live here.

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