Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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BITs that bite into budgets

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 10:00 to 12:00

26th February -10:00-12:00

Residence Palace, International Press Centre, Rue de la Loi 155, Brussels

Why should private lawyers reap the benefits and citizens meet the costs of claims by foreign investors? EU institutions are currently discussing international investment policy, their new competence. This offers opportunities to reform a system which has given far ranging rights to investors to challenge public policy decisions as enshrined in Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) between member states and third countries.

Current settlement measures allow foreign investors to bring claims against states in which they made an investment, undermining democratic decision-making and policies to protect the environment and public health. For example, Swedish energy company Vattenfall is suing Germany because of the country’s phase-out of nuclear energy. Philip Morris is suing both Australia and Uruguay for introducing compulsory health warnings on cigarette packs.

The payouts made by governments as a result of such legal claims have reached tens of billions of dollars, squeezing money out of public budgets. The Parliament and Council are currently discussing who will pay the costs when a state needs to defend itself against an investor claim under future EU treaties.

Recent research by Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute shows that law firms and arbitrators are making millions from investment disputes against governments, actively promote new cases, and lobby against reforms that are in the public interest.

This event is an opportunity to discuss these issues and how they impact on the future of EU investment policy.

All interested members of the public and the media are cordially invited.


Inputs from civil society:
Marc Maes (11.11.11):  Introduction to the Financial Responsibility Regulation and ongoing cases/dynamics in ISDS
Pia Eberhardt (Corporate Europe Observatory):  Profiting from injustice. How law firms, arbitrators and financiers are fuelling an investment arbitration boom

Responses from MEPs, EU member states and the EU Commission:
Pawel Zalewski (MEP, EPP)
Kriton Arsenis (MEP, S&D)
Franziska Keller (MEP, Greens/EFA)
Helmut Scholz (MEP, GUE/NGL)
Etienne Oudot de Dainville (French Ministry for the Economy and Finance)
Ditte Juul-Jørgensen (EU Commission, DG Trade)

Discussion with the audience

The event will be facilitated by Jonathan Bonnitcha, London School of Economics (LSE).


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Monsanto and the pesticide industry breathed a collective sigh of relief on 12 November 2015. The findings of an investigation into the toxicity of glyphosate by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and EU Member States were in stark contradiction to the March 2015 conclusion by the International Agency for Research against Cancer (IARC), a body of the World Health Organization (WHO), that this agricultural herbicide was probably causing cancer to humans. If validated, this conclusion could cause a partial ban of glyphosate in the EU.

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