ISDS or ICS: foreign investors still triumph over public interest

Friday 20 November 2015

Summary: the European Commission’s revised proposal for an ICS includes some modest improvements but it does not change the fundamentals of a system where only investors can bring law suits against states – that means investor’s private interests are ultimately privileged over public policy considerations.

The European Commission recently published a revised proposal for an Investment Court System (ICS) to address the highly controversial investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) regarding current and future EU trade negotiations, including the TTIP.

Earlier this year, UNI Europa called on European MEPs to reject the “compromise” amendment allowing an ISDS scheme within TTIP as it posed a major threat to fundamental rights such as collective bargaining. The Commission’s revised proposal for an ICS includes some modest improvements meant to address the criticism of the European Parliament and social partners as well as alleviate the worries of European citizens, many of which have taken part in recent mass protests against the ISDS.

However, the proposal does not change the fundamentals of a system where only investors can bring law suits against states – in it, investor’s private interests are ultimately privileged over public policy considerations as it still enables foreign investors to challenge public policy decisions they do not like.

“The proposal does not minimise the threat to collective agreements as they will still potentially be subject to ICS,” said Christina Colclough, UNI Europa’s Head of EU Affairs, “Despite Commissioner Malmström’s revision, the European labour market models are still under threat. ICS does not sufficiently address the fundamental flaws of ISDS and should be scrapped.”

UNI Europa, therefore, calls upon Commissioner Malmström to explicitely exclude all forms of collective agreements from ICS and thereby protect the European social model.

Find out more about ISDS in UNI Europa’s Q&A with leading trade expert Dr Gabriel Siles-Brügge here

Watch our Q&A video with UNI Europa’s Christina Colclough here

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