Commission TTIP plan retains privileged corporate justice system

TTIP improvements wasted because of foreign investor right to exploit private courts under EU-Canada trade agreement

Press release - September 16, 2015
Brussels – The European Commission’s modified plan for an Investment Court System under an EU-US trade agreement (known as TTIP) continues to give foreign investors a privileged justice system to challenge EU standards on the environment, health or social rights, warned Greenpeace. As long as the Commission is not prepared to reopen foreign investor privileges in the separate EU-Canada trade agreement (known as CETA), the changes announced today would be ineffective, said Greenpeace.

Anti - TTIP demonstration in Berlin, January 2015. 97 percent of respondents to a Europe-wide public consultation on TTIP launched by the Commission in March opposed the inclusion of the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström recently said that she was not prepared to modify the CETA agreement [1], which contains a different mechanism to settle investment disputes. Corporations with a Canadian subsidiary could resort to private courts under CETA [2]. The Commission recognises in today’s plan that what it describes as “treaty shopping” is likely to be a problem, but fails to clarify how its provisions to prevent it would actually work.

Greenpeace EU legal strategist Andrea Carta said: “The EU-Canada agreement could work as a back door allowing multinationals to circumvent any improvements against private corporate justice in TTIP.”

In its plan, the Commission proposes the creation of a permanent investment court, as well as an appellate body, to rule on trade disputes between corporations and governments. These are improvements, but details are scant on how the courts would ensure independence from corporate interests and how they would guarantee transparency, said Greenpeace. Fundamentally, these provisions would still allow foreign investors to circumvent existing EU and national court systems.

Greenpeace trade expert Jürgen Knirsch said: “The Commission continues to back a two-speed justice system – a privileged justice for multinational corporations to protect their private interests, and a basic justice for citizens and small and medium enterprises. Environmental, health and consumer protection remain at risk.”

Over 2.75 million people have already signed a European petition against TTIP [3], and 97 percent of respondents to a Commission public consultation opposed the inclusion of private investment courts [4].

EU-US negotiations on private investment courts (under a mechanism known as ISDS) have been suspended since 2014. Commissioner Malmström will meet US trade representative Michael Froman in Washington on 22 September. She is expected to attempt to restart negotiations on ISDS at the eleventh round of TTIP talks in Miami on 19-23 October.

Greenpeace calls on the Commission to permanently end negotiations on any form of ISDS. Even without an ISDS mechanism, TTIP and CETA are a serious threat for environmental protection on both sides of the Atlantic, warned Greenpeace.

Notes:

[1] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2015-008188&language=EN

[2] No date has been set for the ratification of CETA by the European Parliament, the Council and the Canadian government since it was signed on 26 September 2014.

[3] https://stop-ttip.org

[4] http://www.euractiv.com/sections/trade-industry/commission-swamped-150000-replies-ttip-consultation-303681http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2015/january/tradoc_153044.pdf.

Contacts:

Greenpeace EU press desk+32 (0)2 274 1911

Jürgen Knirsch – Greenpeace trade expert: +49 171-8780 816, 

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs, follow: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.

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