Change EU investment policy - now is the time!

Public interest, social and environmental policies under threat

31 January 2011
Seattle-to-Brussels network (S2B)

Bilateral investment treaties (BITs) allow transnational corporations to by-pass domestic courts and sue sovereign states - costing tax payers millions in legal expenses and preventing governments from acting in the best interests of their citizens.

Over the past decades EU member states have signed over 1200 “Bilateral Investment treaties” (BITs) designed to protect their investors abroad. BITs allow multinational corporations the right to challenge governments' social, environmental and economic regulations if they look like they might harm the profitability of their investment.

Bilateral investment treaties are a threat to public policy, democratic governance and the public interest and should alert anybody concerned with environmental and social policies.

The investment dispute settlement mechanisms that are typically an integral part of BITs allow foreign investors to by-pass domestic courts and sue sovereign states before international arbitration panels. BITs have cost taxpayers millions in legal expenses and compensations and are eroding the ability of governments to act in the best interests of their citizens. Bilateral investment treaties are a threat to public policy, democratic governance and the public interest and should alert anybody concerned with environmental and social policies.

There is now a window of opportunity to break away from the current investment policies and to put public interest before corporate profits. The Lisbon Treaty has moved the competence for foreign investments from the 27 European member states to the European Union level. The European Commission, Council and Parliament are at present discussing the content and directions of the future EU investment policy.  

Social movements, human rights, development and environmental organisations as well as trade unions must speak out and push for a balanced investment policy that is not merely concerned with investor rights, but holds investors accountable and promotes and protects public interests, human rights and environmental sustainability.

 

January 2011
In: Change EU investment policy - now is the time!
4 pages

Recent publications from Trade & Investment

TTIP Why the Rest of the World should Beware

Why should human rights, environmental and consumer advocate organizations all over the world that are working toward a world different from the corporate-led neoliberal dogma, pay special attention to TTIP?

International Investment Agreements Under Scrutiny

Citizens and policy makers around the world are increasingly questioning the trade agreement system, especially the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) that enables foreign investors to bypass the legal system of host states and sue governments before private tribunals for any policy, democratically passed law, or judgment of a court that adversely affects them.

 

Law’s Empire of Austerity

The neoliberal free market has been 'constitutionalised' through law in Europe and elsewhere as a way to prevent challenges to financial and corporate power. The new technocracy put in place poses a serious danger to  democracy and freedom.

Socialising Losses, Privatising Gains

Dutch investment treaties (BITs) are frequently used by foreign companies to sue governments in the North and South for policies that might harm their future profits. 75% of these cases were brought by mailbox companies with no real economic substance in the Netherlands, making use of the vast web of Dutch BITs and the rights and protection given to foreign investors.