Romanian gold mine pollution reveals spectre of TTIP

23 September 2015

Romanian gold mine pollution reveals spectre of TTIP

A report on Dutch TV on Monday evening on the struggle around a gold mine in Romania demonstrated once again the massive threat posed by the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) to democracy, the rule of law and the environment, says SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur.

Mineur wants to know from European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström whether in the future such things will still be possible, either under the arbitration plans contained within the proposed treaty with Canada, or under the new variant of the arbitration system, the ISDS, which the Europe Union is currently negotiating with the United States.

The report concerned the case brought by Canadian firm, via a subsidiary on the island of Jersey, against the Romanian state. Romania had withdrawn permission for the exploitation of a gold mine. The people of the region has successfully resisted these plans due to the enormous damage which the company’s activities would have caused to the environment and surroundings. The corporation’s claims for damages could run as high as $4 billion.

‘We’re dealing here with a company which is looking to make gigantic profits at the expense of the population and the area in the remote neighbourhood around the village of Roșia Montană,’ says Mineur. ‘The mine has been empty for fifteen years, and the area has been long been poisoned by the cyanide with which the company works. It’s understandable that the people are against its reopening, and good that the government listened to their opposition. But of course it’s ludicrous that the corporation can now present a claim for damages against the profits which they could have made. Apart from the fact that something like corporate risk exists at all, the sum demanded is ridiculously high. $4 billion is comparable to the country’s education budget. The power that the corporation gains through this is much too great. ISDS is a threat to democracy, and we shouldn’t be going down that path.’

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