DS: European Communities — Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products (Hormones)

This summary has been prepared by the Secretariat under its own responsibility. The summary is for general information only and is not intended to affect the rights and obligations of Members.


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Summary of the dispute to date

The summary below was up-to-date at


Complaint by the United States.  (See also DS48 and DS320)

On 26 January 1996, the United States requested consultations with the European Communities claiming that measures taken by the EC under the Council Directive Prohibiting the Use in Livestock Farming of Certain Substances Having a Hormonal Action restrict or prohibit imports of meat and meat products from the United States, and are apparently inconsistent with Articles III or XI of the GATT 1994, Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the SPS Agreement, Article 2 of the TBT Agreement and Article 4 of the Agreement on Agriculture.

On 25 April 1996, the United States requested the establishment of a panel. At its meeting on 8 May 1996, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel.


Panel and Appellate Body proceedings

Further to a second request to establish a panel by the United States, a panel was established at the DSB meeting on 20 May 1996. On 2 July 1996, the panel was composed. The panel report was circulated to Members on 18 August 1997. The panel found that the EC ban on imports of meat and meat products from cattle treated with any of six specific hormones for growth promotion purposes was inconsistent with Articles 3.1, 5.1 and 5.5 of the SPS Agreement.

On 24 September 1997, the European Communities notified its intention to appeal certain issues of law and legal interpretations developed by the panel. The Appellate Body examined this appeal with that of DS48. The Appellate Body report was circulated to Members on 16 January 1998. The Appellate Body upheld the panel’s finding that the EC import prohibition was inconsistent with Article 5.1 of the SPS Agreement, but reversed the panel’s finding that the EC import prohibition was inconsistent with Articles 3.1 and 5.5 of the SPS Agreement. On the general and procedural issues, the Appellate Body upheld most of the findings and conclusions of the panel, except with respect to the burden of proof in proceedings under the SPS Agreement.

The Appellate Body report and the Panel report, as modified by the Appellate Body, were adopted by the DSB on 13 February 1998.


Compliance proceedings

On 22 December 2008, the European Communities requested consultations under Article 21.5 of the DSU. On 19 January 2009, Australia, Canada and New Zealand requested to join the consultations.  Subsequently, the United States informed the DSB that it had accepted the requests of Australia, Canada and New Zealand to join the consultations.


Implementation of adopted reports

On 25 September 2009, the European Communities and the United States notified the DSB of a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the importation of beef from animals not treated with certain growth-promoting hormones and increased duties applied by the United States to certain products of the European Communities, agreed by the United States and the European Communities on 13 May 2009, in relation to this dispute. On 14 April 2014, the European Union and the United States notified the DSB of a revised Memorandum of Understanding dated 21 October 2013.


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