The sixth round coincides with the closing of the public consultation on the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism which CESI participated in. In the guidelines set by EU Member States last year, governments stated that the EU should seek to include provisions on investment protection and Investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the proposed agreement.
The decision to open the ISDS mechanism to public consultation followed unprecedented public interest in the talks. The Commissioner responsible, Karl de Gucht, wanted to strike a balance between protecting European investment interests and upholding governments’ right to regulate in the public interest.
The issues raised in the public consultation range from the scope of the investment protection provisions to ensuring the right to regulate. Transparency and ethics are also included. The consultation has been in the firing line from critics for not including a simple “in-out” question for the ISDS.
CESI raised a number of concerns in its response to the consultation. By including the ISDS mechanism in the TTIP, the EU risks discriminating domestic business and putting foreign investor and foreign business above the law. This risks creating a judicial system not granted to domestic investors, with the inherent discrimination making the TTIP with an ISDS provision difficult to support.
The lack of transparency in the negotiation process is a serious cause for concern for CESI, who has tried to promote an open and inclusive process, not just for trade unions but also for civil society. The EU should be against the principle of creating fears and must not be afraid to open up the negotiating process in order to alleviate these fears.
For CESI, the public good must remain at the heart of negotiations. The public interest (especially social protection, labour standards, health, environment and consumer protection) as well as SGI’s must remain established, monitored, controlled and protected by local, regional, national and European legislative and judiciary powers. These should not be open for negotiation.
During the sixth round starting today, negotiators will continue their discussions on issues such as trade in goods and services, regulatory issues, government procurement, environmental protection and labour rights, energy and raw materials, and opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).