New trade court would ‘not prevent’ legal battles

The European Commission’s proposed new investment protection measures would not stop corporations suing governments as has happened under existing free trade agreements, a new study has claimed.

The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and US has faced significant opposition despite the projected benefits both sides claim it would have on economic growth and employment.

One of the greatest concerns centred on the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism which was to allow for protection of European companies investments in the US and vice versa.

The mechanism was ditched by EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström late last year amid criticism and replaced by the Investment Court System (ICS), which the Commission claims, “enshrines governments’ right to regulate and ensures transparency and accountability”.

A new report compiled by a group of think-tanks and non-profit organisations claims there is little difference between ICS and its predecessor, and argues the most high profile investment cases brought by firms under existing trade agreements would not be prevented by ICS.

The cases analysed in the report include cigarette maker Philip Morris’ case against Uruguay over the country’s health warnings and Canadian energy company TransCanada action against the US government over its decision to reject a proposed pipeline between Canada and the US.

The Commission argues the ability of investors to take a case before the ICS tribunal would be precisely defined and limited to a narrow range of cases of clear and targeted discrimination.


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