Trade talks between Mexico and the EU commenced this week as efforts intensify to update a free trade agreement signed in 2000. Serious concerns about transparency, human rights, and investor obligations saw more than fifty civil society organisations from Mexico and the EU articulate their concerns in a letter demanding a halt to negotiations until certain criteria are met.
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.
In November 2011, Brussels was the stage for a 'Week of Action' which looked to expose the threat of Bilateral Investment Treaties to democratic governance and public interest and to advocate for an Alternative Investment Regime.
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.
A clear and plain language guide to the EU's neoliberal investment regime, explaining both the social and environmental costs of prying open poor, vulnerable countries' economies, as well as outlining a number of ethical alternatives.