From 'Direct Effect' to ‘Muted Dialogue': Recent Developments in the European Courts' Case Law on the WTO and Beyond
VIEWS OF EUROPEAN LAW FROM THE MOUNTAIN: LIBER AMICORUM PIET JAN SLOT, pp. 403-416, M. Bulterman, L. Hancher, A. McDonnell, and H. Sevenstereds.eds., Kluwer, 2009
27 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2012
Date Written: 2009
Recent case law suggests that the European courts are rethinking their position in respect of international law. On the one hand, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is extending its case law on the WTO, denying ‘direct effect’ to all of its provisions, to other major international treaties, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In another recent judgment, the ECJ firmly said that it will not allow international agreements to jeopardize Europe's constitutional principles. These judgments might suggest that the ECJ is becoming more cautious, even skeptical toward international law. On the other hand, the WTO case law also illustrates that the ECJ has found more subtle ways than direct effect to give domestic law effect to international agreements. Examples are treaty-consistent interpretation, judicial dialogue with international tribunals, and transformation of international law into European legal principles. In this way, the ECJ is able to show respect to international law, which is indeed a core European value. At the same time, the ECJ maintains the power to act as a gatekeeper and resist those international legal norms that are considered inimical to the European legal order. On the whole the author welcomes this case law, albeit with some critical notes.
Keywords: Direct effect, WTO, UNCLOS, European Court of Justice (ECJ), EU case law, international law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation