Speaking in reaction to today’s report, from the European Commission, on its public consultation on investment protection in the EU-US trade talks, Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, called the conclusions a reality call.
Ms. Childers said:
“The Trade Commissioner described the overwhelming negative feedback from civil society submissions as a signal of huge scepticism. I would myself describe this as a huge understatement.
“The investor protection mechanisms currently under discussion would open up the door for multinational corporations to bring governments to private, arcane arbitration courts, suing for massive sums in compensation for state decisions that harm their profits.
“This sounds like a return to the feudal era, with a corporate flavour. Commissioner Mälmstrom says we need an open and frank discussion about investment protection, that is, about Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms.
“To be open and frank, I cannot bring myself to vote for a transatlantic trade treaty, no matter how promising to the business sector, that would treat the EU and its Member States as banana republics whose legal systems cannot be trusted to protect investors.
“When pitching his Commission Presidency bid to my political group, Commission President Junker vowed to widespread applause that he would never allow such a mechanism to be foisted on the EU, given that he trusted that EU and national law are well equipped to protect the rights of those who do business within our borders.
“If he is to stay true to his word, the only discussion we should be having is about informing the US counterparts that this is no longer on the table. My country’s experience amply demonstrates that US multinationals do trust the EU regulatory system and want to do business here.
“Commissioner Mälmstrom says that we need to reflect upon how to address the fact that EU countries already have 1400 bilateral agreements of this kind, of which some date back to the 50s.
“I agree. The fact that these schemes, which were initially devised to protect investors from risky forays into developing countries with poor legal protection systems, have been proliferating ever since should give us pause to ponder on the power of big business and vested interests in the world trade agenda.”