In the Wall Street Journal, Jack Goldsmith and Eric Posner ask, "Does Europe Believe in International Law?" Their answer: "Europe's commitment to international law is largely rhetorical. Like the Bush administration, Europeans obey international law when it advances their interests and discard it when it does not." The authors cite a number of examples, but of course I focused on what they say about the WTO:
Europe also has violated international trade laws when public sentiment gets riled up -- for example, in resisting importation of genetically modified foods, or beef from cattle raised with growth hormones. European countries defied adverse World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings in both cases.
European countries have violated WTO law by granting trade preferences to certain banana-exporting nations with which they have strategic relationships;
It could be argued that Goldsmith and Posner have overstated their point a bit. It's not as though the Europeans have intentionally violated WTO rules in the GMOs, Hormones and Bananas cases. In defending their measures, they had some decent arguments as to why the measures were in compliance with WTO rules. And after the measures were found to be in violation, the Europeans took action to bring them into compliance. Of course, it may be true that some of the European actions in these cases do not offer an exemplary model of WTO compliance. But the way the article presents the situation, it sounds as if the Europeans were thumbing their nose at WTO law, and I'm not sure that is a completely accurate characterization. As a final point, an analysis of European compliance with all adverse WTO rulings Europe has faced might provide a better assessment of this issue than picking the notorious few where compliance was contentious.