Can the Investment Court System (ICS) save TTIP and CETA?

January 2016


The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently under negotiation between the EU and the US continues to divide public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. As the public became aware of the multiple dimensions of this proposed agreement, one feature proved to be particularly explosive: the inclusion of a mechanism known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that would give foreign investors the right to legally challenge actions of sovereign states if these actions were seen as violating the rights of the investors. Sensitive to the public mood, and regardless of the fact that this feature has been a standard item in international trade agreements for several decades, both the European Commission and the European Parliament backed away from supporting the inclusion of ISDS. In late 2015, the Commission proposed a new approach to investment protection based on an international investment court system (ICS), which would address the shortcomings of the existing system and assuage the fears of the public. However, this new proposal has not convinced those who are to profit most from it. Nor has it changed hostile public opinion in a number of EU countries.

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