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WTO Dispute Settlement: a Check-up


Edited By Jacques H.J. Bourgeois, Marco Bronckers and Reinhard Quick

The dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organisation has been referred to as the jewel in the crown of the WTO. Reviewing more than
twenty years of the system’s operation, this volume takes stock by providing an in-depth analysis of key issues that have emerged. The book collects and updates papers by a group of eminent experts that were presented at an international conference at the College of Europe in Bruges. The fundamental question of whether the system is in good shape or whether changes are necessary is addressed through five themes.

Firstly, the book looks at the interpretive function of the dispute settlement system and questions whether rulings are capable of "gap-filling". Secondly, under the heading ‘Jurisdiction and Applicable Law’ we cover the thorny issue of how public international law can be integrated into the dispute resolution system. Thirdly, regarding problems associated with implementation, we ask whether the system ensures satisfactory compliance with its rules and rulings or whether financial remedies need to be added. Furthermore, through themes four and five we compare the WTO dispute settlement system with the dispute settlement system contained in the Free Trade Agreements, as well as the investor-state arbitration system (ISDS). We investigate how these two different systems can influence each other and learn from one another. With respect to the reform debate on ISDS, for example, the question was raised whether the WTO dispute settlement system could be considered as a model for such a reform.

This review comes to the conclusion that the system is functioning, if not perfectly, at least reasonably well. Where problems are identified, solutions are suggested to improve the system.

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WTO Dispute Settlement and Dispute Settlement in EU FTA Agreements (Colin M. Brown)


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WTO Dispute Settlement and Dispute Settlement in EU FTA Agreements

Colin M. BROWN1


The EU has developed a consistent approach as regards dispute settlement provisions in FTAs over the last 15 years. With the increase in intensity in the EU’s FTA negotiations, the standard EU approach on FTA dispute settlement will be included in a significant number of agreements. Up until now, these dispute settlement mechanisms have not been used. However, with the increase in the number of FTAs entering into application it is likely that this will not be the case much longer and that cases will be initiated in the not too distant future.

This contribution discusses the EU’s FTA dispute settlement mechanisms. It does so with a particular focus on the EU-Korea FTA given that agreement is the most significant agreement currently applied, but it will be seen, for example when looking at the recently made available Singapore and other FTAs that these mechanisms are all essentially identical. The contribution will first provide an overview of the main features of the EU’s standard dispute settlement mechanism. It will then focus on a comparison with the WTO DSU, focusing on the distinction between the two regimes and the inter-relationships between the two. It will, despite the fact that there have been no cases under the EU’s FTAs, seek to address the question of the effectiveness of the system. It will conclude with some – by definition speculative...

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