The 'odd couple' : the responsibility of the EU at the WTO
Title: The 'odd couple' : the responsibility of the EU at the WTO
Citation: Malcolm D. EVANS and Panos KOUTRAKOS (eds), The international responsibility of the European Union : European and international perspectives, Oxford : Hart Publishing, 2013, pp. 233-255
In this contribution, we address the issue of the international responsibility of the European Union in the area of trade, in particular within the framework of the WTO. We argue that this is a case apart from ‘usual’ approaches to responsibility of international organisations under international law. We analyse how the EU has acted within WTO dispute settlement, especially concerning complaints launched against individual Member States, as well as the reactions of the WTO secretariat and other WTO Members over time. This yields that instead of abstract theoretical considerations about the ‘veil of the organisation’, a pragmatic approach prevails in which the Union consistently comes to the fore in defending its Member States, which is accepted by the outside world. This is due to two main reasons: First, the ‘self-contained regime’ of the WTO and its dispute settlement mechanism; secondly, the peculiar position of the EU and its Member States within the WTO. These features make the EU and the WTO an ‘odd couple’ on the international stage, not least with regard to international responsibility. In this particular setting, the EU indeed asserts its itself internationally as a ‘responsible’ power – also to the benefit to third parties.
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