Growing support for Ploumen’s TTIP arbitration proposal

Support is growing for the proposal put forward by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen and five other EU trade ministers calling for the inclusion of a new form of arbitration in the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP). This was the conclusion drawn at an EU meeting in Riga. According to Ms Ploumen, ‘The new trade agreement that the EU and the US are currently negotiating should include a new arbitration model that results in transparent rulings that meet today’s standards, should conflicts arise between investors and states. It’s very good news that our plan is garnering more and more support.'

The minister is currently in Latvia for an informal meeting of EU trade ministers. The TTIP and arbitration are among the topics the ministers have been discussing. The reform proposal that Ms Ploumen and her opposite numbers from Denmark, Germany, France, Luxembourg and Sweden drafted in February is now viewed by other member states as an effective way to guarantee that any investment disputes arising in the future will be settled fairly and transparently. Because the consultations in Riga are of an informal nature and no decisions are being made, the member states have not yet made their position known officially. ‘But there is clearly a growing consensus,’ said Ploumen.

The plan put together by Ms Ploumen and her colleagues stipulates that government authorities have and will retain their discretionary power to set policy. Investors cannot expect laws and regulations enacted in accordance with democratic processes not to change. There are also strict requirements with respect to the quality and independence of arbitrators. The plan further calls for a permanent secretariat for dispute settlement to replace the current practice of ad hoc resolution. According to Ms Ploumen, ‘This model ensures that a proper balance is maintained between the interests of countries and their citizens on the one hand and the interests of businesses on the other. Of course, if other EU member states support the plan, it is more likely to be implemented.’

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who is leading the negotiations on a new trade agreement with the US, also advocates arbitration reform. In a speech to the European Parliament last week, she mentioned a number of elements contained in the plan put forward by Ms Ploumen and her fellow ministers.

‘Chlorine chicken’

The minister received confirmation again from the commissioner that the TTIP would not allow the import of chlorine-washed chicken from the US to the EU. Ms Ploumen said, ‘There are misunderstandings and fears that our food standards will be compromised, but no concessions will be made in this respect. This has been confirmed here repeatedly.'

The ministers also discussed public services. They and the commissioner reiterated that member states have the authority to organise public services such as health care and education as they see fit. A trade agreement between the EU and the US will not change this.
At the meeting in Riga, Ms Ploumen raised the matter of the position of developing countries. A trade agreement between the EU and the US should limit any negative consequences for low and middle-income countries and maximise the positive impact of the agreement. Research into this matter commissioned by Ms Ploumen is currently underway. The TTIP agreement covers 50% of global GDP and a third