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 →

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 →

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 →

Encryption on the TTIP agenda

The European Commission General directorate for trade confirms that electronic encryption is among the discussed topics:

On ICT, the two sides have so far exchanged analysis on some specific topics, such as e-health, encryption, e-accessibility, enforcement and e-labelling. Continue Reading →

Flawed Dutch government study on ISDS

Today the Dutch government published “The Impact of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the TTIP”. The Parliament had asked for this study. The study is flawed. —————-

Update: See also the Vrijschrift note “Shortcomings in dutch government study on investor – state arbitration”, which is more elaborate and more recent. Vrijschrift letter to Dutch Parlament (Dutch)

A first reading reveals:

It does not mention that it is near impossible to withdraw from trade agreements. Continue Reading →

FFII submission: ISDS: A rigged system, avoid lock-in

FFII submission to European Commission consultation on investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS):

This submission concludes that investor-to-state dispute settlement lacks conventional institutional safeguards for independence and has characteristics of a rigged system. The appointment of arbitrators is not neutral and gives the US an unfair advantage. The US never lost an ISDS case, we can not expect European companies to win major ISDS cases against the US, all the more as the US is not shy to exert pressure on arbitrators. We can expect that US companies will win ISDS cases against the EU and member states. This leads to four considerations. Continue Reading →

Investor-to-state dispute settlement is a rigged system

Investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS), the most controversial element of the proposed trade agreement with the US, has characteristics of a rigged system. ISDS gives the US an unfair advantage, we can not expect EU companies to win ISDS cases against the US. Trade agreements including ISDS would lock-in the EU, as it is practically impossible to withdraw from trade agreements. ISDS is controversial. Investment agreements with ISDS give foreign investors, usually multinationals, the right to circumvent domestic courts and challenge decisions of states for international investment tribunals if decisions may lead to lower profits than expected. Continue Reading →

ISDS threatens privacy and reform of copyright and patent law

On 3 December 2013, the Dutch Parliament requested the government to investigate the potential social and environmental risks and the consequences of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and the consequences of ISDS for the Netherlands and the financial risks for the Dutch government. On 17 April 2014 companies and civil society organisations met at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the ongoing “ISDS – TTIP study”. The ministry invited participants to send in further comments. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) submitted the note “ISDS threatens privacy and reform of copyright and patent law”. Download this note:

Below the summary of this note. Continue Reading →

Irresponsible EU parliament vote on ISDS tomorrow

Tomorrow the EU parliament will vote on investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The parliament will vote on a regulation regarding “International agreements: framework for managing financial responsibility linked to investor-state dispute settlement tribunals”. See the procedure file. The regulation is a deal between council and parliament, it establishes rules for managing the financial consequences of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Who will have to pay, the EU or the member state, if the EU loses an ISDS case? Continue Reading →

German Parliament questions on TTIP

Thanks to the tool you can find what questions are asked by Members of the German Bundestag (MdB) concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to the German government. For instance the Government stipulates that sectoral exclusions are impossible because of WTO principles (Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parl. Staatssekretärin beim Bundesminister für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft):
Dennoch ist es aus der Sicht meines Hauses aufgrund von WTO-Bestimmungen ausgeschlossen, einen gesamten Bereich wie zum Beispiel den Agrarsektor aus diesem Verfahren bzw. aus den Verhandlungen zum TTIP auszunehmen. It needs further analysis why and how bilateral negotiations are governed by WTO trade principles. Continue Reading →

European Commission prepares to surrender our privacy

In my previous post I wrote that in the US – EU trade negotiations (TTIP / TAFTA) the US tabled a proposal that will undermine our privacy. I asked the EU chief negotiator a question about this. He did not acknowledge the issue, so he keeps open the option to surrender our privacy. Negotiations

Last week the 4th round of US – EU trade negotiations (TTIP) took place. On Wednesday chief negotiators Dan Mullaney (US) and Ignacio Garcia Bercero (EU) gave a briefing to stakeholders. Continue Reading →

US wants to undermine privacy in TTIP negotiations

(Updated) In the EU – US trade negotiations (TTIP / TAFTA) the US tabled a proposal that would prohibit to require local data storage. If the EU accepts this proposal, the EU would give away an instrument essential to protect privacy. On 5 March 2014 the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament organised a meeting on the complex relationship between data protection, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the general context of EU-US relations after the Snowden revelations. (Stream available)

I spoke about why trade negotiations are not a good forum to protect privacy, see below. During the meeting EU commission trade negotiator Jan-Willem Verheijden said that privacy is not in the EU negotiating mandate. Continue Reading →