This is an unofficial snapshot of the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG21 Core Issues List revision 112e. See http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg21/ for the official list.
John Spicer: The standard does say that a namespace scope template has external linkage unless it is a function template declared "static". It doesn't explicitly say that the linkage of the template is also the linkage of the instantiations, but I believe that is the intent. For example, a storage class is prohibited on an explicit specialization to ensure that a specialization cannot be given a different storage class than the template on which it is based.
Mike Ball: This makes sense, but I couldn't find much support in the document. Sounds like yet another interpretation to add to the list.
John Spicer: The standard does not talk about the linkage of instantiations, because only "names" are considered to have linkage, and instances are not really names. So, from an implementation point of view, instances have linkage, but from a language point of view, only the template from which the instances are generated has linkage.
Mike Ball: Which is why I think it would be cleaner to eliminate storage class specifiers entirely and rely on the unnamed namespace. There is a statement that specializations go into the namespace of the template. No big deal, it's not something it says, so we live with what's there.
John Spicer: That would mean prohibiting static function templates. I doubt those are common, but I don't really see much motivation for getting rid of them at this point.
"export" is an additional attribute that is separate from linkage, but that can only be applied to templates with external linkage.
Mike Ball: I can't find that restriction in the standard, though there is one that templates in an unnamed namespace can't be exported. I'm pretty sure that we intended it, though.
John Spicer: I can't find it either. The "inline" case seems to be addressed, but not static. Surely this is an error as, by definition, a static template can't be used from elsewhere.
Rationale: Duplicate of Core issue 69.