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)

ITN | 7-Dec-2009
German investor Reinhard Unglaube, a resident of Costa Rica, has commenced arbitration against his host country over the latter’s refusal to grant the appropriate permits to extend his eco-tourist hotel complex in Playa Grande, Costa Rica.
IPE | 2-Oct-2009
An agreement has been signed between the Polish Ministry for State Treasury and Eureko to pay the insurer an interim dividend in November 2009 worth €1.85bn.
IISD | 3-Sep-2009
The recent decision in Pantechniki v. Albania appears to be the only award in the public domain in which a tribunal has held a fork-in-the-road clause to have been triggered by an investor’s prior court proceedings.
ITN | 23-Jan-2009
The United Kingdom has formally declined to release a notice of arbitration delivered by an Indian citizen under the UK-India bilateral investment treaty, explaining that it would likely “prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and an international organisation; UNCITRAL.”
IISD | 3-Dec-2008
In a 12 November 2008 final award, an ICSID tribunal has dismissed all claims by two Italian investors, L.E.S.I S.p.A. and ASTALI S.p.A, in a dispute with the government of Algeria over a failed contract to construct a hydraulic dam.
Multinational Monitor | 24-Nov-2008
British water giant Biwater cannot use an investment treaty to make Tanzania pay millions for an abrogated water privatization contract, an international tribunal ruled in July.
| 5-Nov-2008
There is a Slovak proverb which says: “When catching a bird, they sing it a sweet song”. Another Slovak proverb says: “Those who want to beat a dog will certainly find a club“. For investors who find themselves in a situation similar to that described by these proverbs, the bilateral investment treaties (“BITs”) very often provide the last available legal option. A BIT is an agreement establishing the terms and conditions for private investment by nationals and companies of one state in the state of the other.
Dominican Republic Lawyer | 8-Oct-2008
An arbitration tribunal constituted under the France-Dominican Republic Bilateral Investment Treaty released an award last week ruling on the jurisdictional objections raised by the Dominican Republic in a claim brought by TCW and its parent company.
| 28-Sep-2008
Until the Philippine government and Fraport AG (Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide) have resolved all the legal issues and Fraport fairly compensated, the NAIA Terminal 3 is unlikely to attract long term locators, according to German ambassador to the Philippines Christian Ludwig Weber-Lortsch.
| 28-Jul-2008
A British water company thrown out of Tanzania over a bungled privatisation deal has failed in its bid to win up to £10m in damages.

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