Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

Investment rights stifle democracy

  • Dansk
  • Nederlands
  • English
  • Suomi
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Ελληνικά
  • Italiano
  • Bokmål
  • Polski
  • Portuguese
  • Română
  • Slovenščina
  • Español
  • Svenska

New rules due before the Parliament this week will allow investors from China, India or elsewhere to sue EU member states if they find that a law in the area of public health, environmental protection or social policy interferes with their profits. A new CEO report shows how law firms, industry and member states have manipulated the debate leading to the proposals and how a number of MEPs have tabled industry-biased amendments to prevent a more balanced investment regime. One of them is "Mr. cash-for-amendments" Pablo Zalba Bidegain.

Next week, MEPs are due to vote on a report from the Parliament’s international trade committee (INTA) about Europe’s international investment policy – giving guidelines for the rights of foreign investors under future EU trade deals. The vote follows fierce attempts by law firms, industry and member states to enshrine the right of foreign investors to challenge national laws that affect their profits. As a result, European member states could soon find domestic laws challenged by foreign companies – and politicians will have no powers to intervene.

The report due before the Parliament will effectively give the green light to a European Commission proposal to grant new privileges to foreign companies, allowing them to challenge policies from the local to the European level if they look like they might harm the profitability of a company's investments. The proposal threatens to take millions of Euros in legal expenses and compensation out of taxpayers’ pockets and interfere with the ability of European governments to legislate in the interests of their citizens. Yet the Commission is already integrating these new corporate rights into its planned free trade agreements with India, Canada and Singapore.

At the same time, INTA is also discussing a report on the future of the over 1,200 existing investment treaties of EU member states, which give similarly sweeping rights to foreign investors.

In both cases the European People’s Party (EPP) has been campaigning against any attempt to rectify the current unbalanced investment regime and impose social and environmental obligations on investors. Several EPP MEPs have tabled amendments which appear to have come from outside the Parliament, making the original draft report more investor-friendly. Among them is the Spanish MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain, who was the fourth MEP to be caught accepting cash in return for amending laws by undercover journalists. EPP members Daniel Caspary, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl (both Germany), Christofer Fjellner (Sweden) and Emilio Menéndez del Valle from the Socialists and Democrats (Spain) have also proposed changes that are strikingly in line with industry demands.

The EPP’s attack follows a misleading lobby campaign by EU member states, law firms and industry lobby groups including BusinessEurope and the European Services Forum. They have misled MEPs with claims that are either unsubstantiated or have been contradicted by evidence, and have withheld crucial information about the immense legal, budgetary and policy risks created by investment agreements.

Read the full CEO report:

Next week, MEPs are due to vote on a report from the Parliament’s international trade committee (INTA) about Europe’s international investment policy – giving guidelines for the rights of foreign investors under future EU trade deals. The vote follows fierce attempts by law firms, industry and member states to enshrine the right of foreign investors to challenge national laws that affect their profits. As a result, European member states could soon find domestic laws challenged by foreign companies – and politicians will have no powers to intervene.The report due before the Parliament will effectively give the green light to a European Commission proposal to grant new privileges to foreign companies, allowing them to challenge policies from the local to the European level if they look like they might harm the profitability of a company's investments. The proposal threatens to take millions of Euros in legal expenses and compensation out of taxpayers’ pockets and interfere with the ability of European governments to legislate in the interests of their citizens. Yet the Commission is already integrating these new corporate rights into its planned free trade agreements with India, Canada and Singapore.At the same time, INTA is also discussing a report on the future of the over 1,200 existing investment treaties of EU member states, which give similarly sweeping rights to foreign investors.In both cases the European People’s Party (EPP) has been campaigning against any attempt to rectify the current unbalanced investment regime and impose social and environmental obligations on investors. Several EPP MEPs have tabled amendments which appear to have come from outside the Parliament, making the original draft report more investor-friendly. Among them is the Spanish MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain, who was the fourth MEP to be caught accepting cash in return for amending laws by undercover journalists. EPP members Daniel Caspary, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl (both Germany), Christofer Fjellner (Sweden) and Emilio Menéndez del Valle from the Socialists and Democrats (Spain) have also proposed changes that are strikingly in line with industry demands.The EPP’s attack follows a misleading lobby campaign by EU member states, law firms and industry lobby groups including BusinessEurope and the European Services Forum. They have misled MEPs with claims that are either unsubstantiated or have been contradicted by evidence, and have withheld crucial information about the immense legal, budgetary and policy risks created by investment agreements.Read the full CEO report:
 

Polluters in Peru blog

375 civil society groups send open letter to MEPs.
375 civil society organisations from across Europe have called on MEPs to protect citizens, workers, and the environment from the threats posed by the controversial TTIP talks.
Corporate Europe Observatory analyses the UK government's grid of stakeholders working on TTIP which clearly illustrates how the forces for and against the EU-US trade deal are shaping up.
Conferences sponsored by corporations have become platforms for lobbyists and policy makers.
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