1st February 2015

EC pushes for more ISDS transparency in existing treaties

On 29 January, the European Commission made a proposal which, once adopted by the Council, would enable more transparency in the ISDS proceedings based on the older investment-protection treaties still in force. In the UN, the EU has pushed for a strong commitment for transparency in such proceedings and on 1 April 2014 the new world-wide rules were adopted (the so-called UNCITRAL transparency rules). These rules include for example public access to some proceedings documents. This means that all ISDS regimes agreed after this date should apply these rules ensuring a high level of transparency. However, over 3000 treaties with ISDS provisions are still in force world-wide and these are not covered by the rules. The EU has, therefore, pushed for an international convention which would provide legal basis for those willing to adopt higher-standard transparency rules to the existing ISDS regimes to do so. Such convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly last December and will be open to signature since March 2015. The Commission tabled a proposal for a legal act which would allow the Commission to sign the Convention on behalf of the EU – thus enabling the Member States to update their existing ISDS regimes in more than 1400 treaties to the highest transparency standards. The Commission also reiterated, that the trade deals negotiated after April 2014 containing ISDS provisions are in line with the UNCITRAL transparency rules – that is also the CETA with Canada and the FTA with Singapore.

Meanwhile, France and Germany asked the Commission to renegotiate the ISDS provisions in the CETA deal with Canada. Both countries, along with many others, are uneasy about the whole concept of ISDS – although the regime is not new and hundreds of old treaties contain such provisions, the issue is highly controversial for the public. CETA, however, has already been concluded and only awaits ratification, the process should start soon. Also, Canadian officials refused any re-opening of negotiations.

For more, click here, here and here.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic