I was looking at this and it seems European countries are sometimes respondent to WTO disputes, and not the EU as a whole, so I was wondering if the EU has some kind of mechanism to handle these cases before they are brought by the WTO, because I didn't see any European country complain against another European country at the WTO.

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    What sort of trade disputes do you imagine EU members might have? In general EU treaties make such disputes impossible as relevant policy is set by the EU.
    – phoog
    Aug 13, 2023 at 17:25
  • Are you asking about intra-EU disputes, or about disputes between a single EU country and a non-EU country (e.g. France vs USA)? Aug 14, 2023 at 10:11

2 Answers 2


EU members have agreed by treaty not to take trade disputes to the WTO. This is one of the effects of the following article of the Union's founding treaties:

Article 344

(ex Article 292 TEC)

Member States undertake not to submit a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Treaties to any method of settlement other than those provided for therein.

EU trade is tightly controlled by the treaties (which is not surprising given the EU's origins), so it is clearly covered by this article.


Disputes between EU member countries are indeed usually handled EU-internally. Usually in the Court of Justice of the European Union. The EU single market is in most areas far more regulated than the international market. So when two EU countries have a trade dispute, that's almost always a dispute about EU-internal rules, and not WTO rules.

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    Can you cite some examples of CJEU cases that could be characterized as trade disputes? The WTO disputes seem mostly to concern tariffs, which are irrelevant in this context.
    – phoog
    Aug 13, 2023 at 17:28
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    @phoog: The classic one would be Van Gend en Loos (1962), which not only confirmed that tariffs are forbidden, but also that the treaty has direct effect. Germany was sued by the affected company (Van Gend en Loos), not another government.
    – MSalters
    Aug 14, 2023 at 6:46
  • @MSalters since Van Gend and Loos was not a trade dispute between EU member states, it is not within the scope of this question.
    – phoog
    Aug 14, 2023 at 8:33
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    @phoog: Precisely because offending states can be sued directly, Van Gend en Loos means that many offenses do not escalate to a conflict between EU member states. And, as you yourself note, tariffs are irrelevant in the EU. Van Gend en Loos also is the case you have to cite for that. It really is a pivotal case for the EU's Single Market.
    – MSalters
    Aug 14, 2023 at 9:37
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    @phoog Here’s an example, with Germany disputing the infamous EU banana regulations. eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/…
    – Mike Scott
    Aug 14, 2023 at 17:32

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