Heed citizens’ calls to drop investor protection from TTIP, say Commission advisors

The findings of the public consultation on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the EU-US free trade negotiations, published today, leaves no room for any other conclusion than that ISDS should be excluded from any such trade agreement, two members of the European Commission’s own advisory group have said. The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Transport & Environment (T&E) called on the EU to heed the views of the almost 150,000 European citizens who participated, a record in the history of European public consultation.

The EU had invited submissions on the inclusion in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) of ISDS clauses which allow businesses to bypass national court systems and sue governments directly, in special private arbitration panels, over measures that can jeopardise future profits – typically laws designed to protect the public. ISDS cases have trebled over the last decade. 
From the Commission’s report it is impossible to quantify the number of supporters of ISDS or the reform agenda. However, initial calculations suggest that less than 3% supports this reform agenda. The 97% that are likely to have opposed ISDS altogether are effectively disregarded on technical grounds, said EEB and T&E, which were asked by the Commission to join its TTIP advisory group in 2014. 
Jos Dings, T&E’s director and member of the EU’s TTIP advisory group, said: “Despite the overwhelming call on the Commission to drop ISDS, it has obscured the true extent of opposition in order to ram through its agenda to reform the unreformable. Commissioner Malmström wants to make a fresh start on trade but she has just made a false one.”
Currently, US investment in the EU is three times greater than with the whole of Asia. 19 out of 28 member states, representing 93% of the EU economy, currently do not offer ISDS protection to US investors. To date there are nine known claims in EU-US trade relations, all of them led by US investors.
Pieter de Pous, EEB’s EU policy director and member of the EU’s TTIP advisory group, said: “The EU and US have well-developed legal systems which have more than adequately handled foreign direct investment until now. ISDS would only lead to the erosion of laws that deliver public benefits, notably those that protect consumers’ and workers’ rights and the environment.”

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