Europe

European Union (EU) member states have signed over 1300 investment treaties with third countries, in addition to some 200 between EU members. Non-EU European states are party to over 500 treaties. Most of these contain investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, which enable foreign corporations to take ISDS claims against states if they deem their profits or potential investment to be affected by new laws or changes in policy.

The EU has ratified four agreements with an ISDS mechanism: the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), to which 53 European and Central Asian countries are party, the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, and agreements with Vietnam and Singapore. Only the ECT has been fully in force. The ISDS provisions in the three others will be implemented after all member states have ratified them.

These three deals also include a revised ISDS mechanism created by the European Commission, known as the investment court system. Many critics say that this new system is largely window-dressing and does not address the core of the problem behind investor-state dispute measures.

In 2015, the European Commission asked the EU member states to terminate their intra-EU bilateral investment treaties (BITs), arguing they are incompatible with EU law, which was confirmed by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its “Achmea” decision.

As of April 2020, the number of intra-EU ISDS disputes amounted to 170, approximately 17% of all cases globally, 76 of which having been brought under the ECT.

Overall investors from European countries have initiated over 600 ISDS cases, half of which are against non-European states. European countries have been targeted in about 350 cases. Grouped together, investors from EU member states have launched the majority of total disputes (over 400).

Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Ukraine have been among the ten most frequent respondent states, while the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Italy and Switzerland have been among the ten most frequent home states of the investor.

The most well-known cases include:

Yukos (Isle of Man) vs. Russia: US$50 billion awarded in 2014 to majority shareholders of the oil and gas company (ECT invoked).

Eureko (Netherland) vs. Poland: case settled in 2005 for about €2 billion in favour of the investor, a large European insurance company (Netherland-Poland BIT invoked).

Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka (Czech Republic) vs. Slovak Republic: €553 million awarded in 2004 to the investor, one of the largest commercial banks in the Czech Republic (Czech Republic-Slovak Republic BIT invoked).

(April 2020)

Globe and Mail | 2-Dec-2014
The fate of Canada’s landmark trade agreement with the European Union, known as CETA, may hinge on an obscure case due to come before the European Court of Justice that relates to a similar deal the EU recently struck with Singapore.
EurActiv | 1-Dec-2014
Le mécanisme de règlement des différends investisseurs État prévue dans le traité transatlantique permettrait d’harmoniser le niveau de protection des entreprises dans tous les États membres de l’Union, selon la Commission
EurActiv | 28-Nov-2014
German Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel is clashing with his own party over the EU’s planned free trade agreement with Canada (CETA), calling on Bundestag members to approve the deal despite the controversial investor protection provision.
CUPE | 19-Nov-2014
A new report warns that controversial investor protection rules in the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union could expose Canada to a new wave of corporate lawsuits that restrict the powers of all levels of governments.
EurActiv | 17-Nov-2014
Le secrétaire d’État au commerce, Matthias Fekl a rappelé que la France n’avait pas été favorable à l’inclusion des tribunaux d’arbitrage dans le cadre du partenariat transatlantique.
EurActiv | 17-Nov-2014
Matthias Fekl, France’s Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, has made it clear that France will not support the inclusion of the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) in a potential TTIP agreement.
TNI | 13-Nov-2014
The case of Newmont Mining vs Indonesia is a powerful example of how investment agreements, particularly Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), are used by companies to get exemptions from government regulations and legislation, undermining democracy and development.
EurActiv | 12-Nov-2014
Only small changes can be made to an investment protection clause in a trade pact between Canada and the European Union, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said on Monday (10 November).
TNI | 7-Nov-2014
In an open letter Japanese & European groups call for transparency in the EU-Japan trade talks and removing the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) from the Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
TDM | 6-Nov-2014
The editors of Transnational Dispute Management journal invite contributions to a special edition on CETA

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