European Commission presents comprehensive approach for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation: The EU's approach to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reform outlined in a document published today will be presented to EU partners in Geneva on 20 September during a meeting on that subject convened by Canada. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-5786_en.htm

1. On 18 September 2018, the European Commission, mandated by the June European Council, published this Concept Paper with proposals for modernisation of the WTO. The proposals are intended to make a meaningful contribution by the EU to the debate on how to improve the functioning of the WTO.

2. The European Commission has identified four challenges: First, the failure of the WTO to deliver much by way of new negotiated rules since its inception in 1995. Second, the persistent use of flexibilities and calls for differential treatment, originally intended for poorer countries, by emerging and increasingly developed economies. Third, constraints on the WTO’s monitoring function due to a lack of transparency by members, and fourth, the challenge the United States is making to the dispute settlement function through its continued blocking of appointments to the WTO Appellate Body (a standing body of seven people that hears appeals on disputes brought to the WTO).

3. The Concept Paper sets out a series of ideas on how to resolve the above-mentioned challenges in three areas: rulemaking, regular work and transparency, and dispute settlement.

4. On rulemaking, the Concept Paper argues that the WTO’s rulebook needs to be updated – in particular by doing more work around subsidies, state owned enterprises, forced technology transfer, as well as by finding new ways to accommodate flexibilities for developing countries which are not ‘one size fits all’. It also focuses on the need for new rules on issues beyond the Doha mandate such as e-commerce, and new approaches to negotiations that are more flexible – including the possibility of more plurilateral initiatives.

Topic  Trade 
Department  DFIT 
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Associated file(s)


  1. EM Unnumbered Doc - 90 KB - pdf
  2. Unnumbered Document - 708 KB - pdf
  3. Unnumbered Document 002 - 55 KB - pdf

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