In an astonishing move which ignores the opinion of millions of citizens who oppose ISDS, the governments of Austria, France, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands (AFFGN) have made a sly attempt to institutionalise ISDS throughout the European Union. According to a leaked non-paper, on the 7th April representatives of these five nations made a proposal to the EU Council’s Trade Policy Committee which would in effect create a plurilateral treaty based on foreign investment protection within the EU. A move which was suspiciously followed by publication of a similar proposal on Business Europe’s website in what appears to have been a coordinated action.
Cecilia Olivet, Jaybee Garganera, Farah Sevilla, Joseph Purugganan
24 May 2016
Mining firms have been one of the main corporate sectors worldwide to take advantage of investor-state dispute mechanisms to sue states for regulation of mining, having sued governments for a total of USD 53 billion so far. The Philippines, one of five countries worldwide with the highest overall mineral reserves, has a web of investment treaties which severely constrain the government's ability to regulate or close polluting mines. This legal straitjacket will become even tighter if the EU–Philippines Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) proceed.
Representatives of the governments of Austria, France, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands (AFFGN) tabled a proposal, in April, to establish “a multilateral agreement among the [EU] Member States […] which would replace and supersede pre-existing intra-EU BITs”. With this proposal, all EU investors would effectively be able to sue any member state at an international tribunal when they feel government regulations have undermined their (future) profits. This proposal undercuts the very basis of the European Union and is the best example of how the EU has become a vehicle for business rights at the expense of democracy.
248 pages of leaked documents confirm concerns: In a misguided effort to conclude one of the most ambitious trade deals ever, negotiators are arguing away hard-won health, workplace, food, farming and environmental safeguards, while pushing power further from electorates, citizens and regulators, and deeper into the hands of businesses, corporations and interest groups.