EU trade deals: MEPs quiz Commission on impartial investment arbitration  

Plans to replace controversial private arbitration with an impartial and transparent multilateral court will be debated with Commissioner Malmström on Wednesday.

The way investors bring cases in trade conflicts governed by EU trade agreements must be reformed. Conflicts in trade partnerships, such as TTIP or CETA, should be dealt with by an international court, instead of a private ‘investor-to-state dispute settlement’ (ISDS) mechanism, MEPs are likely to argue.

ISDS systems, which are currently used most in trade deals across the world, are perceived as threatening states’ rights to legislate in favour of protecting health, safety or the environment. The systems are opaque, lack strong mechanisms to recognise appeals, and there are doubts about arbitrators’ impartiality. A multilateral investment court, by contrast, would be transparent, allow for appeals and come with a strict code of conduct for judges.

In a July 2015 resolution on TTIP, the Parliament requested to replace ISDS with a new system. MEPs consider the new investment protection rules in CETA to be a stepping-stone to a fair international system.

On 13 September, the EU Commission requested to open negotiations for a multilateral investment court. The Council now has to decide whether it wants to give it the green light and, if so, what kind of negotiating instructions it will give to the Commission.

Procedure: Oral question with debate


Debate: Wednesday, 29 November