THE IMPACT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AS THE MEMBER OF THE WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION ON LEGAL PERSONALITY

Muhammad Bahrul Ulum
LL.M. in International Trade and Economic Law
Osmania University, Hyderabad

ABSTRACT
This thesis analyses the legal personality of the European Union (EU) as the member within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in which the EU plays a significant role in this organisation in spite of EU Member States’’ membership at the WTO. Theoretical approach is undertaken regarding state and non-state actors in which those distinct entities bring gap in legal scholarship, particularly with respect to the nature of international organisation which is basically different from the nature of state.

This thesis discusses the legal capacity of the EU membership at the WTO which engenders concurrent membership to the EU and its Member States at the WTO. It also explores EU’s relation to its Member States from the lens of jurisdiction in the matter of external trade policy. It finds that there is a vague area to include the EU into the WTO. In practice, the EU also is not proper to be deemed like state actor in this organisation. Yet, the application of customs union within the EU challenges the nature of state and besets the power of EU Member States to enter into external trade policy. This brings about the new pivotal role in legal fora that the EU changes its initial nature of international organisation from intergovernmental relation to supranational body, thus, at the WTO it is juxtaposed to state actor because its power transcends limits of jurisdiction of its Member States in respect of external trade policy. Hitherto the EU still cannot be defined as a state actor, but it is not a totally international organisation in nature.

The thesis concludes that there is a paradigm shift of international organisation, as exemplified by the EU which has closer characteristics to state actor. The EU asserts that it does not only have capacity in international arena, but it has power to force domestic arena within its Member States. Therefore, the EU phenomenon should be understood as the bridge which harmonises the characteristics of international law and constitutional law and brings a new landscape where international law meets constitutional law to move forward together.

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