The Seven Sins of the EU Investment Court

By Pia Eberhardt, a trade policy researcher and campaigner with Brussels-based lobby watchdog, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO). Originally posted at EU Observer

European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem and Canadian minister for trade Chrystia Freeland have confirmed that the EU-Canada CETA agreement will include far-reaching investor privileges.

The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause in the deal is set to be based on EU proposals for an Investment Court System (ICS) that were announced last autumn following unprecedented public outcry. However, ICS is no new departure. Indeed, it is the same special rights for foreign investors come back from the dead.

Plans for ISDS were among the most contentious parts of the proposed TTIP deal between the EU and US. Debate has been focused on the rights that corporations will acquire to challenge democratic decisions when they consider them a threat to their profits.

This power for companies to haul governments before special tribunals for lost profits has, for instance, led to Philip Morris suing Uruguay over tobacco control measures and, more recently, TransCanada’s announcement that it will sue the US for $15 billion over President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Public fears around ISDS forced the commission to open a consultation in 2014. Nearly 150,000 people responded with 97% of the contributions rejecting ISDS.

Last autumn, Malmstroem made another attempt to quell the controversy with a new proposal to replace ISDS – the Investment Court System. However, a close look at the new system reveals that it is just as dangerous…

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