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Dispute settlement | Brussels, 24 September 2021

Stepping up the enforcement of EU trade agreements: the European Commission appoints members of expert panel assisting in the selection of arbitrators

The European Commission has appointed four individuals of recognised competence to the panel of independent experts assisting the Commission in the task of selecting candidates for the role of adjudicators under the dispute settlement mechanisms established by EU trade and investment agreements.

The members of the panel are:

  1. Mr Bruno Simma, judge/arbitrator at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague and former member of the International Court of Justice;
  2. Ms Inge Govaere, professor of EU Law at Ghent University;
  3. Mr Jan Klabbers, professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki; and
  4. Mr Pavel Šturma, professor of International Law, Charles University (Prague).

They will act in their personal capacity, independently and in the public interest. They will be subject to the rules of expert groups of the Commission.

Appointing the members of the selection panel is the latest step in the setting up of a new selection mechanism, addressing demands from stakeholders and the European Parliament for a more depoliticised, independent and inclusive process. This process will contribute to stepping up the enforcement of EU trade and investment agreements by establishing independently-vetted lists of highly qualified adjudicators.

As its first priority, the expert panel will carry out a selection procedure of the most suitable candidates to serve as arbitrators among the applications received by the Commission following an open call published on 18 December 2020. The outcome of the selection process will be a pool of qualified individuals that will be published on the website of DG Trade.

The Commission will draw from this pool the names of adjudicators to be proposed for appointment in specific disputes or as members of tribunals or expert panels under EU trade and investment agreements. The nomination of candidates to rosters of specific agreements will be decided by the Council on the basis of a Commission proposal. The rosters are subsequently adopted in agreement with the third country or countries concerned, typically by a decision of a joint body.

Background

Dispute settlement is an important part of implementing the EU’s trade and investment agreements with third countries. The European Commission is responsible for ensuring that it functions properly.  
This includes:

  • appointing arbitrators or experts in specific dispute settlement cases, and;
  • establishing rosters of pre-appointed arbitrators, rosters of trade and sustainable development experts, and tribunal members of Investment Court Systems.

On 16 December 2020, the Commission adopted decision C(2020)8905 establishing a panel of independent experts that will assist the Commission in the selection of adjudicators and arbitrators for dispute settlement mechanisms under EU trade and investment agreements.

The Commission decision