The European Union and the WTO
“European Union or Communities?
Since 1 December 2009 “European Union” has been the official name in the WTO as well as in the outside world. Before that, “European Communities” was the official name in WTO business for legal reasons, and that name continues to appear in older material.
The EU is a WTO member in its own right as are each of its 27 member states — making 28 WTO members altogether.
While the member states coordinate their position in Brussels and Geneva, the European Commission — the EU’s executive arm — alone speaks for the EU and its members at almost all WTO meetings and in almost all WTO affairs. For this reason, in most issues, WTO materials refer to the “EU” (or previously the legally-official “EC”).
However, sometimes references are made to the specific member states, particularly where their laws differ. This is the case in some disputes when an EU member’s law or measure is cited, or in notifications of EU member countries’ laws, such as in intellectual property (TRIPS). Individual EU members speak in committee meetings or sponsor papers, particularly in the Budget, Finance and Administration Committee.
Sometimes individuals’ nationalities are identified, for example the nationalities of WTO committee chairpersons.”