On 21 October 2019, the EU announced that the EU and Norway notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of their interim appeal arbitration arrangement pursuant to Article 25 of the Disputes Settlement Understanding in the event that the Appellate Body is not able to hear appeals of panel reports in any future dispute between the European Union and Norway due to an insufficient number of its members. In such cases the European Union and Norway will not pursue appeals under Articles 16.4 and 17 of the DSU. The announcement said:
In this way, the EU and Norway secure an effective and binding dispute settlement for any potential trade disputes that might oppose them under the WTO law, in case the existing WTO Appellate Body stops being operational.
The EU’s foremost priority remains to ensure an effective functioning of the existing WTO Appellate Body. The interim arrangement has however become necessary as a contingency measure given the long-standing blockage in the appointments of the Appellate Body members.
The EU and other WTO countries have made formal proposals and are now discussing ways to resolve the situation. In the meantime, an interim solution that mirrors the existing WTO appeal process can be put in place between interested WTO members.
The agreement with Norway is the EU’s second interim appeal arrangement, the first being the one agreed between the EU and Canada on 25 July 2019.