On 18 December 2020 the European Commission and the EU’s Member States initiated a call for candidates to be appointed as adjudicators in EU trade agreements. The aim is to establish a pool of highly qualified individuals from which to draw persons to act as adjudicators in particular state-to-state dispute settlement proceedings or to appoint them to rosters of adjudicators (which is the fall-back option for state-to-state dispute settlement in EU agreements where there is no agreement between the Parties on adjudicators for a particular dispute). The EU is seeking both 3rd country nationals to act as chairpersons and persons with the nationality of an EU Member State. This initial call covers arbitrators for State-to-state dispute settlement and for panellists in trade and sustainable development disputes. A call will be made at a later date for adjudicators for investor-state disputes.

Applications can be made either to the European Commission or to Member State authorities and should be submitted before 23:00 Brussels time on 1st February 2021. Applications will be screened by Member States and/or a Selection Panel (which the Commission has just established) to ensure that candidates have both the expertise and the required high ethical standards to act as adjudicators. The Commission will also shortly proceed to seek candidates for the Selection Panel. Once candidates have been screened they will be placed in a pool, and the Commission will draw from that pool to appoint adjudicators in specific disputes or to propose nominees for rosters under specific agreements. For more information on the process, including how to apply see: https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=2224

This initiative is taken to ensure that the EU’s bilateral dispute settlement mechanisms, when needed, operate as effectively as possible. It also provides the Commission the chance to address the lack of gender balance in its practice to date. At the same time as initiating the call, the Commission adhered to the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge (http://www.arbitrationpledge.com/ ) as regards its dispute settlement activities in the field of trade and investment.