Trade & Investment Works on
Trade & Investment works on a range of subjects and issues.
TNI’s Trade & Investment Justice project plays a critical role in challenging the European Union’s 'free' trade and investment policies and advocates in its place an Alternative Trade and Investment model.
We believe an alternative European trade and investment model should:
- meet the universal and inalienable human rights of all people,
- guarantee decent work,
- recognize the importance of reproductive care, community and informal work,
- ensure a transition to a low-carbon economy,
- achieve meaningful democratisation at all levels of decision-making,
- challenge structural power relations between countries, regions, men and women, classes, castes and ethnic groups,
- fight poverty and establish new and equitable solidarity relations with people in other regions,
- increase the level of economic, social and environmental well-being globally.
- EU Investment policy
Why challenge EU Investment policy?
The 2009 Lisbon Treaty introduced a number of changes to the European Union’s policy on international investment. Under the new rules, competences to protect foreign investments by European companies would be transferred from national states to the European Union. This means that from now on the EC can now negotiate comprehensive agreements covering both trade as well as an investment protection chapter. The EU is in the process of developing a model EU investment agreement for application in future Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) or EU Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs).
EU’s International Investment Agreements (IIAs) – such as the Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and investment chapters in the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) - are part of the international investment regime. These agreements give TNCs extraordinary rights allowing them to sue sovereign states for millions of dollars before private international arbitral tribunals. There is no similar international tribunal where governments or citizens can bring TNCs to justice when their activities violate social, labour, human and environmental rights or when they act in breach of public policy requirements.
The Lisbon treaty provided an ideal opportunity for the EC to revisit the flawed practices of EU Member States. Instead, the EC failed to reform international investment agreements nor created a more balanced investment policy that would include corporations’ legal responsibilities for the consequences of their operations worldwide. The new wave of EU Investment agreements will continue promoting a socio-economic model that subjects the rights of the majority to the logic of a market dominated by transnational corporations.
- EU Trade Policy & FTA's
Why challenge EU Trade policy?
Inter-regional trade has traditionally received strong support in the European Union for its potential to increase investment, create jobs and build linkages and mutual ties between regions. However, TNI believes that too often commercial needs are given precedence over human rights, tackling poverty and preventing environmental degradation.
The EU’s current pro-corporate trade agreements with developing countries – some concluded, others under negotiation - cover a wide range of issues that go beyond exchange of goods to cover every aspect of a country's economic policies. They seek to limit regulation, consolidating the power of European corporations with negative impacts on people and the environment.
- increased food insecurity as a result of removing tariffs on imported agricultural products and due to the distorting effects of agricultural subsidies in Europe
- decreased access to health and medicines due to the international property rights regime negatively affecting the ability of developing countries to acquire life-saving drugs and technologies;
- reduced access to access to vital public services due to rigid application of liberalisation and privatisation schemes in the area of trade in services
- rise in environmental devastation as a result of easing restrictions for exploitation of natural resources by transnational corporations;
- heightened divisions in existing regional processes, as a result of EU FTAs with individual countries that belong to a regional block, as we have seen in the case of Andean Region.
Despite these negative effects, the European Union has continued advancing negotiations of a myriad of far-reaching free trade agreements. Following the 2006 trade strategy “Global Europe, Competing in the World”, on 9th November 2010, the European Commission (EC) launched the new Trade Strategy for Europe called “Trade, growth and World Affairs”. This new strategy is merely ‘business as usual’. It continues to focus almost exclusively on opening markets for European business abroad and offers flawed solutions to exit the financial and economic crises. It argues that a further liberalisation of trade and investment is needed to face the economic crisis. There is a complete denial by the European Commission and the Member States of the fact that the crises are, in part, the consequence of deregulation of financial services through the liberalisation of trade worldwide.
Notwithstanding the “sustainable development” rhetoric and the new “green growth” rhetoric, the EU trade and investment policy remains untransparent and geared towards serving the interests of EU businesses above people and the environment.