How do the European Union and the United States respond to legal challenges brought in WTO litigation? As the current Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization is deadlocked, answering this question is key to assess the strength and nature of the WTO judicial arm, and to assess whether and how the WTO can remain a key institution in global economic governance. We will investigate responses to WTO litigation of the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) through a combination of advanced regression techniques, crisp set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (csQCA), and in-depth case studies of selected WTO disputes, in which the EU and the US acted as defendants. Based on an original re-coding of the WTO dispute settlement Database by Horn and Mavroidis, we will be able to identify patterns of responses to WTO litigation, trace causality and make inferences about necessary and sufficient conditions, and apply the legal studies method of case law analysis in a controlled comparison of selected WTO dispute settlement cases.
This mixed method design allows us to consider two types of responses to legal challenge at the WTO simultaneously, namely the degree of dispute escalation (consultation, panel, retaliation) and the degree rule compliance (non-implementation, partial, and full implementation). In this project application, we illustrate how the two explanatory factors of political mobilization and number of veto players may well be causally linked to both dispute escalation and rule compliance. We further explain how we will investigate a whole range of other explanatory factors, explain how we will overcome coding challenges, and set out how international interdisciplinary collaboration will contribute to the feasibility and innovative nature of the project. The supervisory team for the PhD researcher will consist of UA ACIM staff Prof. Dr. Dirk De Bièvre and FWO postdoc Dr. Arlo Poletti (soon part-time Professor at LUISS, Rome), UA WTO law specialist Prof. Dr. Alexia Herwig, QCA specialist Prof. Dr. Francesco Giumelli (Prague), and WTO case law specialist Prof. Dr. Petros Mavroidis (Columbia Law School & EUI, soon Dr. honoris causa of the UA).