From the EEC - Import Restrictions case, adopted in 1983:
12. In the view of the European Community, in order to judge the compatibility of these restrictions with the provisions of GATT, it was not enough to limit examination to a purely legal exercise. All restrictions with which the Panel was concerned, were "residual restrictions", i.e. measures for which liberalization had not been possible in the OECD programme of liberalization of the 1950s. Account must be taken of historical and general factors as well as the specific economic and social situation in each sector, e.g. weak industrial structures and technological adjustment; threat of serious injury to domestic production and employment through increases in imports and competition with low-priced foreign products; sectorial trade imbalances and declining shares of the domestic market; in some cases also risk of circumvention of quotas established for similar goods. The EC submitted documentation to the Panel dealing with such factors as they affected each of the products in question. The EC maintained that judgement that would be isolated from any economic consideration and from the real factors of commercial policy, would be contrary to the pragmatic approach that was traditional in GATT. It was stated that any condemnation of the quantitative restrictions under reference on the basis of provisions of the General Agreement would not be justified and would be unfair given that these restrictions represented only a very small part of the overall problem of residual restrictions. In the light of this situation, the Community believed that it was more useful to pursue a case-by-case approach which would allow the economic implications of each restriction to be examined individually and thus to confirm that these restrictions were necessary to deal with problems at economic and social levels. (emphasis added)
In essence, the argument seems to be, "let's not get all hung up on legal issues, let's think about the broader economic and social issues and take a pragmatic approach." How times have changed! (I should note that the panel rejected the argument, but it's hard to imagine the argument even being made today).