EU Court of Justice’s Advocate General Melchior Wathelet finds that investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) agreements between EU countries are compatible with the EU treaties. (Opinion in the Achmea v. Slovak republic, the ruling of the Court will follow later.)
I find this Opinion highly problematic; the AG disregards known issues and options and propagates, without a good justification, a certain solution: ISDS. Some examples; Wathelet:
“44. I would add that the systemic risk which, according to the Commission, intra-EU BITs represent to the uniformity and effectiveness of EU law is greatly exaggerated. UNCTAD’s statistics (46) show that out of 62 intra-EU arbitral proceedings which, over a period of several decades, have been closed, the investors have been successful in only 10 cases, (47) representing 16.1% of those 62 cases, a rate significantly below the 26.9% of ‘victories’ for investors at the global level.
This FFII position paper provides feedback on the inception impact assessment “Convention to establish a multilateral court on investment” (IIA). See below or the pdf. For the related consultation see here. The IIA’s baseline scenario – what will happen without policy changes – is just one sentence long and does not expect a multilateral investment court (MIC) to have social or environmental impacts. The paper presents more comprehensive baseline and multilateral investment court scenarios.
The European Commission has launched a consultation on an investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) variant: a multilateral investment court. 1 In an email the commission confirms the consultation has a narrow scope. The commission does not want feedback on the system as a whole. This way the system’s social and environmental impacts may go unmentioned in the consultation results. This is irresponsible, as the system as a whole will strengthen investments vis-à-vis democracy and fundamental rights This undermines our values and ability to respond to crises, including climate change.
The EU commission has launched a consultation on a multilateral investment court (MIC), an investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) variant. 1 The commission does not expect a multilateral investment court to cause social or environmental impacts. 2 This is remarkable as the current ISDS system causes serious impacts. And even worse, the consultation seems designed to obscure the social and environmental impacts. In an email to the commission I explained the issues and asked to publish a more meaningful Inception Impact Assessment and consultation.
The European Commission has launched a consultation on a multilateral investment court (MIC). The MIC would be a successor to investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Mankind faces an existential threat: climate change. The data is disconcerting and shows our societies are not on top of the issue. Further reforms are needed; reforms will harm vested interests.
ECORYS published a final draft human rights assessment of the trade agreement with the US (TTIP). The official name is a Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment (TSIA). I provided feedback on an earlier draft, see here. In my opinion, the final draft is disappointing. I will give two examples.
Members of the European Parliament want the EU’s Court of Justice to check whether a parallel legal system in the trade agreement with Canada (CETA) is compatible with the EU treaties. The parallel legal system, known as ISDS / ICS, is only accessible to foreign investors. Eighty-nine members tabled a resolution. The Parliament will vote next week, Wednesday 23 November 2016. According to associations of judges (one, two), academics (letter from over 100 law professors) and NGOs (ClientEarth, two pager), the ISDS / ICS parallel legal system is not compatible with the EU treaties.
Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake used harsh words on Wallonia for (temporarily) blocking the signing of the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA): unbelievable, shameful political opportunism, really incomprehensible. In the press release she also defended the inclusion in CETA of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS), a parallel legal system for multinational investors. In this blog I will argue that Schaake supports an approach that puts at risk democracy and the rule of law. Schaake is the liberal groups’s (ALDE) spokesperson on trade. Wallonia has seriously looked at CETA for years.
The European Commission and Canadian government work on a “Joint Interpretative Declaration” that should convince governments that have doubts about signing the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA). The Declaration does not change CETA’s text. It does not give a clarification of provisions. Take the first paragraph of the section on Investment Protection:
“CETA includes modern rules on investment that preserve the right of governments to regulate in the public interest including when such regulations affect a foreign investment, while ensuring a high level of protection for investments and providing for fair and transparent dispute resolution. CETA will not result in foreign investors being treated more favourably than domestic investors.”
The study “Trade and Privacy: Complicated Bedfellows? How to achieve data protection-proof free trade agreements” is remarkable. On the one hand it shows, beyond doubt, that the EU fails to sufficiently protect personal data in its trade agreements. On the other hand, one of the safeguards it recommends could leave our personal data more vulnerable. Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), commented:
It’s unacceptable that the EU’s privacy and data protection rules could be challenged through trade policy.
Investment lawyer Pratyush Nath Upreti argues that investors will be able to use investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) to challenge decisions of the Unified Patent Court (UPC).  Investors could for instance use a Dutch bilateral investment treaty to challenge UPC decisions. Upreti identifies Dutch investment treaties as suitable for treaty shopping and warns for more frivolous IP litigation in investor-to-state dispute settlement. This raises a question. Who would bear the litigation costs and damages awards?