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).

 
"There is de facto a systemic collusion between the Commission and business circles"
The way in which the Commission has appointed the head of its “in-house think-tank” has demonstrated its woefully inadequate conflict of interest assessment for new appointments, says Corporate Europe Observatory. The conflict of interest assessment applied to the former chief of the Lisbon Council, Ann Mettler as head of the new European Political Strategy Center (EPSC) does not appear to have explored her close cooperation with some of the biggest corporate players in the digital and technology market. In CEO's view, this casts serious doubts on the independence of the advice that is to be given to President Juncker and his college of commissioners.
Civil society organisations denounce European Commission’s leaked proposal
On 17 April, Via Campesina, the D190-20 Alliance and Corporate Europe Observatory held a lobby tour around the Brussels European quarter, highlighting the corporate lobbies who are pushing an aggressive agenda around TTIP (the EU-US trade deal currently being negotiated). There was a particular emphasis on the impacts TTIP will have, if passed, for farmers' livelihoods, food standards, and for the way food is produced in the EU. The next negotiation round will take place on 20 April, this time in New York.

Alternative Trade Mandate

Corporate Europe Forum