European Commission adopts Ploumen’s TTIP investment protection proposals

Foreign trade and development cooperation minister Lilianne Ploumen has welcomed today’s detailed proposal from the European Commission to improve investment protection in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). A public court and appeal mechanism with appointed judges will be set up, and member states’ policy freedom will be guaranteed. ‘Countries must be able to democratically adjust their policies at any time,’ said the minister. ‘That’s why I’ve emphasised the need for a transparent dispute resolution mechanism in TTIP from the outset. I’m pleased that the Commission will use this proposal in its efforts to modernise all trade agreements.’

The Commission’s proposal (here and here) provides for a Tribunal of First Instance and an Appeal Tribunal. Twenty-one judges will be appointed, from the EU, the US and third countries. The proposal stipulates that countries retain the right to regulate to achieve legitimate policy objectives in the public interest. Investment protection should not prevent states from amending their rules.

Ms Ploumen, together with five like-minded counterparts from EU member states, had earlier submitted a proposal to improve arbitration. The Commission has now largely adopted that proposal. ‘There clearly have to be changes to investment protection. Dutch companies abroad must be certain that they will be treated fairly. But governments, too, want to be sure that they can make policy democratically. The Commission has taken note of the criticism received, including the European Parliament’s proposal for a new mechanism. The document it has published provides a good basis for further discussion.’

The proposal will now be officially submitted to the member states and the European Parliament. The Commission would like it to become the EU standard for all current and future negotiations. Ms Ploumen said: ‘In my opinion, modernisation can’t proceed fast enough. I hope that the Commission will quickly put forward proposals for amending trade agreements with countries like Canada and Singapore.’