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The Impact of WTO Transparency Rules: Is the 10,000th SPS Notification a Cause for Celebration?--A Case Study of EU Practice


  • Chris Downes


The World Trade Organization (WTO) members are increasingly notifying trading partners of changes to domestic legislation under Article 7 and Annex B of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreement. Nevertheless, these notifications alone provide little indication as to the extent of members' commitment to transparency and the real contribution made by these WTO obligations to facilitating international trade. Through a case study of EU notification of food safety measures, this article explores the impact of WTO rules on the development of domestic SPS measures. While clearly committed to advancing transparency, the EU's application of SPS norms is shown to be inconsistent in practice: non-notification of many EU and EU Member State measures and, in cases, failure to notify in a manner that allows third-country comment. This review identifies factors that complicate coherent EU implementation of transparency obligations. In spite of the deficiencies documented, the case study reveals the emergence of policy-making practices that can significantly contribute to reducing technical obstacles to agricultural trade. The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Downes, 2012. "The Impact of WTO Transparency Rules: Is the 10,000th SPS Notification a Cause for Celebration?--A Case Study of EU Practice," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 503-524, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jieclw:v:15:y:2012:i:2:p:503-524

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    Cited by:

    1. Wolfe, Robert, 2013. "Letting the sun shine in at the WTO: How transparency brings the trading system to life," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2013-03, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.

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