EU law experts will probably have more insights into this then I will, but I thought it worth noting the latest developments in the case in which some European companies claimed compensation under EU law for financial damages arising from the U.S. sanctions in the EC - Bananas case. Reuters reports:
In its judgment, the European Court of Justice upheld an earlier ruling that a lower EU court issued in 2006 holding that the EU should not compensate companies for any losses incurred as a result of the increased U.S. import tariffs.
The European Community "cannot be called upon to make good damage resulting from a failure of its institutions to comply with the WTO agreements," the court said in a statement.
Here's the decision press release: http://curia.europa.eu/en/actu/communiques/cp08/aff/cp080062en.pdf And the decision is here: http://curia.europa.eu/jurisp/cgi-bin/form.pl?lang=EN&Submit=rechercher&numaff=C-120/06 A key excerpt:
125 The distinction which the appellants seek to draw between the ‘direct effect’ of the WTO rules imposing substantive obligations and the ‘direct effect’ of a decision of the DSB, asserting that it should be open to individuals to have the legality of the conduct of the Community institutions reviewed by the Community courts in the light of the DSB decision itself if such a review is not possible in the light of the WTO rules which that decision has found to have been infringed, calls for the following comments.
126 Even though the Court has not yet been required to rule expressly on such a distinction, it nevertheless necessarily follows from its case-law mentioned above that there is no basis for the distinction.
127 In holding that the WTO rules which have been found by a decision of the DSB to have been infringed cannot, notwithstanding the expiry of the period of time laid down for implementing that decision, be relied upon before the Community courts for the purpose of having the legality of the conduct of the Community institutions reviewed by the Community courts in the light of those rules, the Court has necessarily excluded such a review in the light of the DSB decision itself.
128 A DSB decision, which has no object other than to rule on whether a WTO member’s conduct is consistent with the obligations entered into by it within the context of the WTO, cannot in principle be fundamentally distinguished from the substantive rules which convey such obligations and by reference to which such a review is carried out, at least when it is a question of determining whether or not an infringement of those rules or that decision can be relied upon before the Community courts for the purpose of reviewing the legality of the conduct of the Community institutions.
129 A recommendation or a ruling of the DSB finding that the substantive rules contained in the WTO agreements have not been complied with is, whatever the precise legal effect attaching to such a recommendation or ruling, no more capable than those rules of conferring upon individuals a right to rely thereon before the Community courts for the purpose of having the legality of the conduct of the Community institutions reviewed.
130 First, as is apparent from paragraphs 113 to 124 of the present judgment, the considerations linked to the nature of the WTO agreements and to the reciprocity and flexibility characterising them continue to obtain after such a ruling or recommendation has been adopted and after the reasonable period of time allowed for its implementation has expired. The Community institutions continue in particular to have an element of discretion and scope for negotiation vis-à-vis their trading partners with a view to the adoption of measures intended to respond to the ruling or recommendation, and such leeway must be preserved.
131 Second, as is apparent from Article 3(2) of the DSU, recommendations and rulings of the DSB cannot add to or diminish the rights and obligations provided in the agreements concerned. It follows in particular that a decision of the DSB finding an infringement of such an obligation cannot have the effect of requiring a party to the WTO agreements to accord individuals a right which they do not hold by virtue of those agreements in the absence of such a decision.
132 It should, in particular, be recalled in this regard that the Court has already held in relation to the provisions of the GATT 1994, which have been found by the DSB to have been infringed in the present case, that those provisions are not such as to create rights upon which individuals may rely directly before the courts by virtue of Community law (see, to this effect, the order in OGT Fruchthandelsgesellschaft, paragraphs 25 and 26).
133 It follows from all of the foregoing considerations that the Court of First Instance rightly decided that, notwithstanding the expiry of the period of time allowed for implementing a decision of the DSB, the Community courts could not, in the circumstances of the case in point, review the legality of the conduct of the Community institutions in the light of WTO rules.