Seven things you should know about EU-Singapore ISDS

In October 2014 the European Commission published the draft text of the EU-Singapore trade agreement (EUSFTA) investment chapter. It contains investment protection rules for foreign investors and the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which gives foreign investors special rights in conflicts with governments. Seven things you should know about this investment chapter:

1. The agreement creates a lock-in. Unlike most investment agreements ratified by European countries, it is not a stand-alone investment treaty, from which parties can withdraw. Continue Reading →

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EU liberals seem ready to sacrifice our democracy

Marietje Schaake, the European Parliament’s liberal group’s (ALDE) spokesperson on the trade agreement with the US (TTIP) published a blog on investor-state arbitration (ISDS). I will discuss her arguments below; to avoid cherry picking, I will quote her whole blog (for the links and images see her blog). I conclude that a majority of the European Parliament liberal group seems ready to sacrifice the separation of powers, and democracy, for no good reason. As things stand now, the liberals won’t fight for our democracy. Schaake:

“ISDS – what’s going on? Continue Reading →

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FFII submission to Ombudsman consultation on openness in TTIP negotiations

Foundation for a Free information Infrastructure (FFII) submission to the European Ombudsman public consultation in relation to the transparency of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. The submission has a focus on the EU’s human rights obligations. The international human rights obligations (ICCPR and ICESCR) may be relevant for other countries as well, such as TPP countries. FFII submission: pdf, html
Continue Reading →

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Who leaked about Juncker and Malmström fighting over ISDS?

Last week the Dutch newspaper NRC revealed a fight between Juncker and Malmström over ISDS. The article (paywall) sketched the context: uninformed activists gaining influence. The article suggested Juncker without good reason giving in. As Juncker does not gain anything with this leak about the fight, I assume proponents of ISDS leaked, and had the ear of the reporter, so they could sketch the context. The newspaper did not give civil society a rebuttal: very bad journalism, endangering our democracy. Continue Reading →

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EU Parliament promises to better register its decisions

In 2011 the FFII discovered that some European Parliament decisions regarding the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) were not recorded in any known document. A hidden class of documents (“coordinators’ minutes”) seemed to exist, but the Parliament denied the existence. The FFII filed a complaint with the European Ombudsman. The ombudsman found a systemic failure regarding the listing of documents in the Parliament’s registry of documents. In response, the Parliament took measures to better comply with EU law. Continue Reading →

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11 October action day against TTIP, CETA and TISA

This Saturday 11 October 2014, in hundreds of European cities, civil society organisations, unions and farmers will organise manifestations against EU trade agreements under negotiation. The manifestations regard the Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) with many countries. The secret negotiations create serious risks for privacy, reform of copyright and patent law, labor rights and the environment, and may give companies excessive power in conflicts with states. See also the Statement of Concern on investor-to-state arbitration by over 110 scholars. Continue Reading →

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ISDS out?

OpenDemocracy reports about the back and forth confusion during Commissioner hearings recently:

At 16:01 they [Tagesspiegel] publish an article on their website: Juncker will drop ISDS from TTIP, this is the policy of the incoming Commission. It becomes more an more likely that the controversial enforcement of TTIP and CETA with ISDS instruments would be resolved. This would enable the public to focus more on the substance of the envisaged agreements. Continue Reading →

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US PEC on Cross-Border Data Flows in TTIP and other FTA

The US President Export Council discusses its proposed data flow provisions (June 19, 2014) as a means to counter the rush to privacy protection and denounces privacy measures of foreign governments as a trade barrier and digital protectionism. No further arguments are provided to back up these claims and allegations. CHAIRMAN McNERNEY:
.. Ginni, you warmed up earlier today over breakfast, on cross-border data flows, but why don’t you give us a summary of the second letter on cross – data border flows? MS. ROMETTY [IBM]: Okay. Continue Reading →

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A license to spy – cross-border data flows in TTIP

Here is a quote from Harry van Dorenmalen of IBM Europe:
Data flows and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will be high on the agenda at the Summit. TTIP offers a unique opportunity to set the example as a 21st Century trade agreement that supports cross border data flow provisions… The position is not new and mirrors earlier attempts of IBM Europe leadership to mock the idea of a European cloud. The “demands for a safe environment for big data” are channelled via various lobby hats, including EU branded ones. Here for instance the European Services Forum (22 May):
The ESF and CSI call upon negotiators to ensure that TTIP will allow cross border data flows and dataprocessing to occur free from discriminatory terms and trade distorting conditions such as requirements to use local network infrastructure or local servers. Continue Reading →

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121 scholars speak out against planned ISDS provisions in TTIP

A 100.000 citizens answered the EU consultation on ISDS, among them 121 academics. Some quotes from their submission:

“The Commission’s consultation document is an extraordinary text. On the one hand, the document contains fierce (and, in our opinion, fully justified) criticism of the international investment treaty arbitration regime as it has developed over the last two decades or so in a rapidly expanding number of awards under some 2800 Bilateral Investment Treaties, NAFTA, and the Energy Charter. Both explicitly and implicitly, the document disapproves of widespread expansive interpretations of nearly every provision found in investment treaties: from Most Favored Nation to umbrella clauses, from National Treatment to Fair and Equitable Treatment, from indirect expropriation to threshold issues of corporate nationality. The document also implicitly condemns the investment arbitration community for its failure to police itself adequately in matters of ethics, independence, competence, impartiality, and conflicts of interest. Continue Reading →

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