Dublin MEP Nessa Childers praised the German Association of Magistrates for declaring an EU Commission-proposed investment tribunal illegal. The Berlin body which represents German judges considers that the investment tribunal lacks a legal basis and fails to even see a need for it.
The magistrates’ organisation’s statements were made in reaction to a proposal from the Commission, made last September, for an international tribunal to rule over disputes opposing corporate investors to national governments, under an EU-US trade agreement under negotiation.
The proposal was made as an attempt to quell widespread opposition to a private arbitration system mechanism for investor-state disputes which would give corporations the power to sue governments for compensation when public decisions hinder their profits.
The European Parliament has a final say on the approval of international trade treaties negotiated on behalf of the European Union by the EU’s executive, the European Commission.
Ms. Childers and other members of the European Parliament vowed to vote against this free trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), if it granted such private arbitration jurisdiction on foot of corporate challenges. The mechanism is known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
Ms. Childers, a longstanding critic of ISDS, considers this alternative, publicly mandated investment tribunal, an equally unnecessary and dangerous compromise, given the exclusive powers it grants to multinational investors.
Speaking in reaction to this week’s declaration from the German body of judges, Ms. Childers said:
“The German magistrates are validating the reasons why I have opposed this tribunal, together with other colleagues in Parliament, as a form of ISDS-lite, with smoother edges and a few nods to due process of law, but fundamentally inequitable in its approach.
“This is a major blow to the Commission’s attempt at appeasing the US trade lobby, which is hell-bent on normalising an international regime that was devised decades ago to deal with far-flung corners of the globe with dubious legal systems.
“This overgrowth of private corporate arbitrators has made inroads into the western world and is championed by big business because it has proved extremely effective at snatching extortionate sums from governments when public policy threatens their profits.
“We cannot allow our trade rules to give multinational giants exclusive power to blackmail government when their legislative or administrative action displeases them.
“Our legal and court systems are perfectly capable of determining whether either parties have overstepped the boundaries of legality.
“We don’t need a corporates-only branch with the cards stacked against the public purse, just because big business wants a courtroom with a premium lounge.”