Adjudication and Positive Integration: The Role of the European Court of Justice and the Dispute Settlement Body in the “Trade and Environment” Debate

  • Rike Krämer-HoppeEmail author
Part of the European Yearbook of International Economic Law book series (EUROYEAR)


The relationship between the two goals trade and environment is complex and has been analysed by the so called “trade and environment” debate. This debate has mainly focused on the WTO with the inclusion of some comparison with the EU. Especially with regard to the quasi-judicial organs of the WTO, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the comparison has concentrated on negative integration, the removal of trade barriers between countries by striking down Member State measures via adjudication. This has led to a narrow comparison of judicial reasoning to the trade and environment interdependence, leaving aside the other side of the same coin, positive integration, in the sense of the establishment of common rules. Even so courts can not enact common rules, the paper argues, the ECJ and to some extent also the DSB can play pivotal roles by changing the status quo and providing an opportunity structure for environmental change and foster positive integration in this way. In order to allow for a broader comparison, the paper will first analyse the different standing rights before the ECJ and the DSB. In a second step, the different possible roles the ECJ or the panels and the Appellate Body can play in promoting positive integration will be outlined: rule enforcement, clarification of the room to manoeuvre and facilitator of positive integration. In a third step, these possible roles are exemplified by different settings and cases from the EU and the WTO. These cases show that positive integration can also be fostered through adjudication. For comprehensive comparisons this perspective has to be included in our “trade and environment” debate.



I gratefully acknowledge helpful comments from all the participants of the workshop “Trade and Environment – Positive Integration in the EU and the WTO” 9.–10. May 2016 at the Ruhr-University Bochum especially from Adelheid Puttler.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ruhr-University BochumBochumGermany

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