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Three decades of the Nakajima doctrine in EU Law: Where are we now?

Stoyanov, Kristiyan (2021) 'Three decades of the Nakajima doctrine in EU Law: Where are we now?', Journal of International Economic law., 24 (4). 724 - 737.


Under the Nakajima doctrine, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) can review the legality of a European Union (EU) measure in the light of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements if the EU legislature intended to implement a particular obligation assumed in the context of those agreements. This article argues that Nakajima remains a valid exception to the lack of direct effect of WTO law in the EU. Section II highlights the CJEU’s restrictive interpretation of Nakajima. Section III shows that in recent case law the CJEU continues to take a narrow interpretation of Nakajima, although the CJEU has been reluctant to abolish it altogether. This section also analyses the feasibility of establishing the intention to implement WTO law based on external circumstances (Section III.B) and demonstrates Nakajima’s significance beyond EU law (Section III.C). Section IV criticizes the CJEU’s combination of Nakajima and the principle of interpreting EU law in consistency with international law. Section V concludes.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact
Date accepted:18 November 2021
Date deposited:18 February 2022
Date of first online publication:14 December 2021
Date first made open access:18 February 2022

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