After the shutdown of the World Trade Organization’s appellate court, the European Union announced new measures to impose punitive tariffs on trade partners.

The European Commission proposed on 12 December giving the Union new powers in trade disputes. With the WTO’s paralysis, countries could abuse sanctions to limit imports. In order to reform the organisation, consensus from its 164 member countries is required.

“Whilst we seek to reform the WTO and re-establish a well-functioning WTO system, we cannot afford being defenseless if there is no possibility to get a satisfactory solution within the WTO”, said the EU’s trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, adding that the proposal will enable the EU to act even when the WTO will not be able to issue rulings.

A WTO official said that the judges whose terms ended on 10 December would stay to complete three out of 13 pending appeals: a dispute on Australia’s packaging of tobacco products, Ukraine’s claim against Russia’s measures to limit import of railway equipment, and a conflict between the US and Canada on paper trade.