Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

BITs that bite into budgets

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Date: 
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.



Programme

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).

 

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) today criticised the plenary vote of MEPs to approve the Jean-Claude Juncker Commission.
Attac Austria and Corporate Europe Observatory are today launching new 'wanted posters' about prospective members of the new European Commission, to expose details of their corporate backgrounds or other aspects of their careers which make them unsuitable to act as commissioner and promote the interests of 500 million European citizens.
The European Parliament has overwhelmingly voted in favour of freezing the budgets of the Commission's problematic advisory groups, formally known as Expert Groups. Surprisingly, this is the second time in four years that the Parliament has taken such a drastic step, after the Commission failed to tackle corporate domination within these influential groups (see graph below).
As part of her inquiry into the Commission's implementation of UN tobacco lobby rules, European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has asked Commission President Barroso for “a supplementary opinion” with proper answers to questions raised in her inquiry. O'Reilly took this step after having received a seriously unconvincing letter from Barroso that fails to address the specific questions and arguments put forward by CEO in the complaint that sparked the Ombudsman's inquiry.

Corporate Europe Forum