30 April 2020, the EU and other WTO members have formally notified the ‘Multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement’ (MPIA) to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This notification marks the start of the application of the MPIA to disputes arising between the participating WTO members. The MPIA ensures that participant WTO members will continue to benefit from a functioning two-step dispute settlement system in the WTO including the availability of an independent and impartial appeal stage. Additional WTO members may join the MPIA at any time. Inclusiveness is an important feature of the MPIA that is designed to offer stability to WTO dispute settlement, despite the Appellate Body’s paralysis. The MPIA will operate under the WTO framework, based on a provision in the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Understanding for dispute arbitration. The interim appeal arrangement is not intended to supplant the WTO’s Appellate Body. As soon as the Appellate Body is again able to operate, appeals will be brought before the Appellate Body. The subscribing WTO members will now start putting in place a pool of 10 arbitrators that could be called on to hear future appeals. The aim is to have the composition of this pool finalised within three months from now.
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