Monday

23rd Jul 2018

TTIP: US yet to approve EU investor court plan

  • New York stock exchnage (Photo: Dan Nguyen @ New York City)

The United States “understands” why the European Union wants to include an investor court system in the proposed EU-US free trade agreement, discussed in Brussels this week, but the US' chief negotiator refrained from giving a substantive analysis of the EU plan.

“We’ve received the proposal fairly recently,” said Dan Mullaney at a press conference on Friday (26 February), wrapping up the twelfth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

  • EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero (l) with his US counterpart (Photo: European Commission)

“We do understand the concerns that are behind the proposal,” he noted, but did not say whether he liked the idea or not, only that the two sides would discuss it further.

“I can’t say at this point what the outcome of those discussions are going to be, but we are pursuing those discussions with full understanding of what the objectives are behind these provisions and with a focus on how best we can achieve what are essentially commonly shared goals and outcomes in this area.”

This week was the first time that the two sides discussed the European proposal for an investor court system (ICS), which was announced last year as a substitute for the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system.

“Investment protection is a highly complex subject,” said Ignacio Garcia Bercero, the EU’s chief negotiator.

“This round marks the beginning of the process of discussions in this area, and we have spent significant time understanding each others’ proposals better and [are] also starting to identify areas of convergence."

However, no decisions were made.

“We haven’t yet reached the point where we are already beginning drafting common language,” Garcia Bercero noted.

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem proposed the court last September as an alternative to ISDS. Critics feared an ISDS deal under TTIP would empower US firms to sue EU governments should laws or policies run against their interests.

But despite the alternative, protests remain.

On Monday, Greenpeace activists protested outside the negotiating venue in Brussels. They believe that the ICS court is just as dangerous.

“[Negotiators] say they want to protect environmental, health and labour standards, but instead they are giving foreign corporations exclusive rights to challenge these same standards in a special court,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

Garcia Bercero and Mullaney are “not at all frustrated” by the level of opposition to TTIP, they both said.

“We are continuously ready to engage with everyone in Europe who has a view on TTIP. We are ready to meet, we are ready to discuss,” said the European negotiator.

“We believe this continued policy of engagement, of transparency, is the best way to convince European citizens that there are no risks and a lot of benefits in the TTIP negotiations,” he added.

And not everyone is against TTIP.

Lobby group Copa-Cogeca said Thursday on behalf of European farmers that they “strongly support the TTIP negotiations for a comprehensive and balanced outcome”.

The group’s secretary-general, Pekka Pesonen, said instead that a rival agreement between the United States and eleven countries around the Pacific Ocean could pose a threat to the European agricultural sector.

The US recently signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, with countries like Japan and Australia.

“If the TPP agreement from the Pacific region is ratified and implemented before we can conclude anything, that would give a comparative advantage to our competitors, especially in these two countries, Japan and US,” said Pesonen at a press conference Thursday.

The EU and US meanwhile said they still hoped to conclude TTIP talks in 2016.

“Let me be clear. We want to finish this year, but we do not favour an early harvest, or a TTIP light. We want an ambitious, comprehensive and high-standard agreement,” said Dan Mullaney, echoing similar words by his European counterpart.

Visa waiver dispute hangs over EU-US relations

People from Cyprus, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia still need a visa to enter the US, prompting EU annoyance and reports of potential action against US travellers to Europe.

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

EU leaders and Japanese prime minister signed a series of agreements, including the EU's biggest trade deal ever, designed as an answer to the disruption of the world order by the US president.

News in Brief

  1. Greece FM warns of Russian interference in Balkans
  2. Minister: No Franco-German disagreement on US tariffs
  3. UK Brexit minister warns of 'no-deal' preparations
  4. Munich: large protest against CSU's anti-migration line
  5. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  6. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  7. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  8. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU will be blamed for no-deal Brexit, UK minister tells Berlin
  2. Far-right Bannon to open EU campaign group
  3. Russia sanctions: test of EU commitment to international law
  4. Malta's PM cleared of Panama Papers wrongdoing
  5. EU wants answers to de-dramatise Brexit talks
  6. Juncker White House trip trumps the agenda This WEEK
  7. Italian populists try to sink EU migrant mission
  8. EU urges no-deal Brexit preparation

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us