European Commission must block Investor-State Disputes Settlement (ISDS) system

13 January 2015

European Commission must block Investor-State Disputes Settlement (ISDS) system

Broad resistance to the proposed Investor-State Disputes Settlement (ISDS) system is forcing European Commissioner for external trade Cecilia Malmström on the defensive. On Tuesday the Commission published the long-awaited results of the public consultation on the matter. Almost 150,000 people contributed their views, almost all of them extremely critical in tone. The SP believes that scrapping the ISDS section in negotiations over the trade agreement with the USA, but also in the recently agreed treaty with Canada, is now unavoidable.

SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur argues that support for the ISDS amongst the European population is so low that it’s quite unacceptable to go along with it any longer. “Negotiations on this trade treaty with the United States are stalled at the moment, but when it comes to the already-negotiated Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, the Commissioner refuses to act, which is incomprehensible. If she admits that she has a problem with the ISDS, then that’s just as valid for Canada as for the US, more so in fact. If the ISDS is permitted for Canadian corporations, then it’s already available too to US firms which have a significant interest in a Canadian concern, which is true in almost 50% of cases. That Malmström herself doesn’t understand that underlines the need for a referendum on this trade treaty.”

Mineur is unsurprised by the results of the consultation. “ISDS gives multinationals so much power over democratic decision-making that our trade union rights, civil rights and environmental legislation are all put in jeopardy. People have seen that clearly, and they find it unacceptable. It’s good that the Commissioner has properly understood the outcry.” She also notes the remarkable difference between the views of corporate capital and those of small and medium-sized firms, who see the major disadvantages more clearly than do bigger firms.

Distinguishing herself from her predecessor as trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, Cecilia Malmström does not deny that the contributions she has received come from almost 150,000 different individuals. She also recognises that the 569 organisations which have expressed their views in the consultation in many cases represent thousands or even tens of thousands of members, as is the case for example with trade unions, umbrella groups and NGOs.

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