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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

The Commission is launching a call for applications to the pool of arbitrators for dispute settlement under EU trade and investment agreements.

Arbitrators will be vetted by a panel of four independent experts, one of which is nominated by the Commission. The Commission has also published a call for applications regarding the Commission nominee to the selection panel.