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Trade

Dispute settlement

The European Union uses various tools to enforce the commitments it negotiates to benefit companies, workers and citizens under international trade agreements.

Trade topics
Dispute settlement

One of these tools is dispute settlement under the World Trade Organization (WTO) or under EU bilateral trade agreements.

Dispute settlement:

  • is an objective and effective means of settling disagreements between States or between investors and States on government measures/practices;
  • prevents unilateral actions and the escalation of diplomatic tensions, and contributes overall to peaceful international relations, and;
  • clarifies the obligations of States under international law and develops a common understanding through case law.

Overview of the EU's active dispute settlement cases

Commission proposal to amend Enforcement Regulation (December 2019)

WTO dispute settlement

The WTO provides a mechanism for member countries to resolve disputes among them related to the implementation of WTO trade agreements.

More on WTO dispute settlement

Bilateral dispute settlement

The EU’s bilateral trade and investment agreements provide for state-to-state dispute settlement to ensure that the rights and obligations provided for in EU FTAs are respected.

The EU brings bilateral disputes where necessary to enforce EU rights.

More information on Dispute settlement cases under bilateral trade agreements.

Investment dispute settlement

Since 2009, the EU has been negotiating investment treaties that protect EU investors when they operate in third countries.

These enable investors to resolve their investment disputes with States (e.g. on expropriation) before independent courts and tribunals.

The EU is party to the Energy Charter Treaty that provides for investment dispute settlement. The EU is also negotiating to establish a Multilateral Investment Court.

More information on Investment disputes.

Candidates for dispute settlement activities

Bilateral dispute settlement proceedings under the EU’s trade agreements with third countries depend on highly qualified adjudicators. The EU’s selection process establishes independently vetted pools of eligible candidates, ensuring the prompt and precise adjudication of disputes arising under EU trade agreements.

The candidates that pass the selection process are included in a pool, from which the Commission may choose individuals to be nominated for appointment in specific disputes or proposed for rosters, courts or tribunals under specific agreements. For rosters, courts or tribunals, the final appointments will be decided by agreement with the third country concerned after the Council has adopted a decision pursuant to Article 218(9) TFEU.

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