The EU Under GATS and RTAs
Chapter 7: Transparency
The principle of transparency can be considered as a cornerstone of WTO law and is also central to the selected EU RTAs and their services chapters. Transparency in the internal legal regimes of Members is key to facilitating trade as it reduces transaction and information costs and improves efficiency. Transparency has even been called the ‘real jewel in the crown’ of the WTO (as opposed to dispute settlement). But, as explained below, transparency obligations rarely constrain regulatory autonomy. They are therefore mostly dealt with briefly in this book. According to a WTO Secretariat definition, in the WTO agreements, the principle of transparency is three-pronged. The prongs encompass the following requirements: (i) to make information on trade-related laws, regulations and policies publicly available; (ii) to notify (changes to) laws and regulations; and (iii) to ensure that laws and regulations are administered in a uniform, impartial and reasonable manner. The third prong is a form of due processthat is considered part of the principle of transparency here. GATS, the EU-C & P RTA, the EU-Georgia DCFTA and the EU-Singapore RTA contain many transparency requirements, of each of the three prongs of the principle of transparency. As noted, the obligations in the following overview may be considered burdensome, but – with one exception – cannot be said to constrain regulatory autonomy: a. Articles III:1–2 GATS, 288.1, 3 EU-C & P and 14.3.
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