Last week, on 12 November, the European Commission finalized its proposal for a new investment dispute settlement mechanism that would replace the hated ad hoc ISDS mechanism in TTIP and future trade deals. The final proposal was made public and simultaneously sent to the US. Talks on ISDS in TTIP have been frozen by the Commission for over a year, following strong criticism from the civil society in the EU. The EC launched a public consultation in March 2014 and in September this year it proposed a new system. The ad hoc ISDS would be replaced in TTIP and all ongoing and future trade negotiations conducted by the EU with a permanent Investment Court System. This court would consist of recognized law experts and its proceedings would be transparent. Moreover, an appeals mechanism would exist. Compared to these initial ideas, the Commission added, following another round of inter-institutional consultations with the Council and the EP, special treatment for SMEs. These are often in a worse position than big multinationals regarding investment protection. In the proposal published last week, SMEs´ claims at the investment court would have preferential treatment.
Aside from this initiative, the EC said it would initiate international negotiations with the overall aim to establish an independent and permanent International Investment Court. This court would replace all past and future ISDS mechanisms in all trade deals. This, however, will be a longer-term process.
At the same time in Italy, the agricultural sector on the one hand expressed some criticism so as to the overall transparency of TTIP negotiations, but on the other hand rejected demonizing of the entire project. Representatives of Italian agriculture said at a meeting with the government, that they expect the abolition of tariffs to be more beneficial for the Americans, but that the reduction of some non-tariff barriers (one of the key aspects of TTIP) would create enormous opportunities for EU agriculture products on the American market. They added, though, that trademarks and other protected typical indicators, recognized in the EU, should also be recognized in the US.
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