Bernd Lange accepts perverse incentives in ISDS

Bernd Lange, chair of the European Parliament international trade committee, has sent a letter to EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström regarding the EU commission’s investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) reform proposal. His letter shows that he overlooks many deficiencies in the commission’s proposal, among them perverse incentives. The proposed system lacks integrity and would undermine our values. I will go through his letter line by line. “Dear Commissioner, dear Cecilia,

On the 8th of July 2015 the European Parliament adopted a resolution with the European Parliament’s position on the TTIP negotiations. Continue Reading →

TPP: rigged ISDS

New Zealand has published the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Ongoing analysis, subject to updates:


Investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) places investment tribunals above states, above democracies. This places the development of law beyond democratic scrutiny. At a national level, parliaments can change laws that do not work out well. This is not possible at the supranational level. Continue Reading →

CETA – Keine Erkenntnisse

Aus einer Anfrage an die Bundesregierung geht hervor, dass Deutschland zwar von der Kommission gegenüber Drittstaaten vertreten wird, aber nicht ausreichend über die Gespräche informiert. Das verdeutlicht Nachbesserungsbedarf in der Administration von EU Kommissarin Malmström hinsichtlich Transparenz, auch gegenüber den Regierungen der Mitgliedstaaten. Sie präsentierte diese Tage eine “Neue Strategie”. Abgeordneter Harald Ebner (BÜNDNIS 90/ DIE GRÜNEN) Welche konkreten Themen wurden nach Kenntnis der Bundesregierung beim Treffen des EU-Canada Trade & Investment Subcommittee am 27. November 2014 unter den Tagesordnungspunkten 10 („GMO Import Authorizations“) und 12 („Food Labelling Issues“ inklusive Klonen) mit welchen Ergebnissen diskutiert? Continue Reading →

EU commission ISDS proposal a threat to democracy and civil rights

(Subject to updates; ongoing analysis)

The commission has tabled its investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) reform proposal for discussion with the United States and published it on 12 November 2015. Summary

This analysis concludes that the commission’s proposal would undermine democracy, civil rights, and the rule of law. The proposal contains neither exhaustion of local remedies, nor a wide margin of appreciation for states, lacks various institutional safeguards for judicial independence — leading to perverse incentives — , gives greater procedural rights to foreign investors, includes substantive rights open to broad interpretation, and contains a right to regulate that does not protect against unlimited backward looking damages including expected profits and interests. Unlimited damages and the threat of such damages have a chilling effect on policy makers, compromise the independence of officials, and could force a state to revise a regulation or decision as part of a settlement. The commission’s proposal would place investment tribunals above states, above democracies. Continue Reading →

Can TTIP Protect European Creativity?

On 4 June 2015 the European Liberal Forum (ELF) organised a discussion on TTIP and the creative industries: Can TTIP Protect European Creativity? [1] TTIP is the trade agreement with the US under negotiation. ELF now posted some pictures on Facebook summing up the discussion: one, two, three, four, five. This of course can not capture the richness of the debate. To add some context, here are my talking points:

Patents and copyrights are monopolistic rights. Continue Reading →

European consumers can stand the truth

Some European consumers are concerned about the transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), others are not. The EU negotiates it on our behalf with the US. As a consumer association FFII took a critical stance towards TTIP early on, like an expert who explains you whether a used car you might consider to buy has defects. We now have a vital and broad public debate where at times criticism is over the top and very badly informed. The same applies towards the voices of proponents. Continue Reading →

EU Parliament resolution on TTIP is a diplomatic blunder

Today the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on the trade agreement with the United States (TTIP). Based on this resolution we could have a discriminating and expansive investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, rigged to the advantage of the United States. A diplomatic blunder. (adopted ISDS amendment)

First, discrimination. ISDS gives foreign investors — and only foreign investors — the right to bypass local courts and challenge governments before supranational investment tribunals. Continue Reading →

ISDS compromise threatens democracy

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament proposed a compromise amendment on investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS). [1]

The amendment calls on the EU commission to replace ISDS with ISDS: “to replace the ISDS-system with a new system for resolving disputes between investors and states”. The president’s proposal discriminates: only foreign investors would have access, local investors, states or citizens won’t. [2]

It is also anti-democratic and a slippery slope. Supranational fora fall outside a democratic context. Continue Reading →

France proposes empty ISDS reforms

The French government published a proposal for investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) reforms: Towards a new way to settle disputes between states and investors, May 2015. (pdf, French: Le Monde)


The French proposal would grant for-profit arbitrators, working in a system that creates perverse incentives, vast discretionary powers. This creates a serious risk on expansionist interpretations. Foreign investors would be able to use this biased system to challenge governments. As it is practically impossible to withdraw from trade agreements, the EU would be locked in. Continue Reading →

A week of fundamental critique on trade negotiations

Last week the European Parliament postponed the vote on a resolution on the EU-US trade agreement (TTIP). The vote was postponed because many social democratic members oppose investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The US House voted a fast-track package down. This week various authors criticised fundamental aspects of ongoing trade negotiations. The geopolitical argument: China

Lawrence Summers and George Soros pointed out that the use of anti-China language is dangerous. Continue Reading →