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).

 

Polluters in Peru blog

There are daily meetings between the financial lobby and the Commission, and they’re mainly about issues crucial to society at large. Despite this, the public is only able to access piecemeal information on what is discussed, and even then with unacceptable delays. Given the huge impact the financial sector has had on society, keeping this lobbying behind closed doors is deeply problematic. Transparency reform is needed.
Multi-sectoral civil society coalition calls for greater protections for consumers, journalists, whistleblowers, researchers and workers.
NGOs have today responded to the Commission's reply to the European Ombudsman's recommendations on how to better handle revolving door cases within the Commission. In particular, they echo the demand for more transparency.
The European Commission directorate-general at the heart of the 'cash for influence' claims by UK MP Jack Straw (TAXUD - taxation and customs union), has now released to Corporate Europe Observatory information showing its lobby contacts in 2013 with the now disgraced ex-minister. The documents illustrate how Straw tried to use his influential name and impressive CV to help open lobby doors. They also expose the loopholes in EU lobby rules.

Alternative Trade Mandate

Corporate Europe Forum