The European Union and United States began negotiating a very large and imposing trade and investment deal this week in Washington. Critics of status-quo corporate globalization, including all centre-left and left parties in the European Parliament, are raising red flags about the inclusion of an investor-state dispute settlement process in that deal. This process, like Chapter 11 in NAFTA or Canada’s many Foreign Investment Protection Agreements (FIPAs), lets companies challenge government decisions and policies, and seek compensation for lost profits, in front of paid arbitrators rather than court judges. Investor-state dispute settlement is fundamentally undemocratic and the opposite of transparent.
The European Commission tries to dispel the growing anger towards investor-state dispute settlement in a Q&A about the U.S. negotiations. But much like the propaganda the Canadian government released in response to criticism of its own EU deal (CETA), the Commission document is extremely misleading. Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), a corporate lobbying watchdog in Brussels, unravels the spin an excellent blog post picking apart eight demonstrably false or problematic statements by the Commission. In May this year, the Council of Canadians, CEO and Transnational Institute released a report on the threats these investment protection pacts create for legitimate environmental measures in Canada and the EU.