Investment protection and ISDS in the TTIP: the discussion continues with more consultation around the corner

Yesterday afternoon, the EU Commission issued its Report on the outcome of the public consultation on the inclusion of investment protection and investor-state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the EU and the US. As discussed in our blog post here, the public consultation was launched against the backdrop of vociferous debate about the nature of ISDS and investment protection more generally and in relation to the TTIP. The controversy surrounding investment protection and ISDS in connection with the TTIP is described in our recent podcast.

It is no surprise that the Report reveals strong opposition to, and concerns about, ISDS in the TTIP. It is also no surprise that the discussion as to both the content of the investment protections (including any “right to regulate”, as it is known), and the nature of the mechanism by which these can be enforced, will continue. In its Report, in response to the criticisms of inclusion of ISDS in the TTIP, the Commission refers back to the fact that the consultation takes place in specific circumstances in which the Council (and therefore, to all intents and purposes, each Member State) has unanimously entrusted the Commission to negotiate high standards of investment protection and ISDS within the TTIP, providing the final outcome corresponds to EU interests.   Further, whilst the negotiating directives include an element of conditionality and make clear that a decision on whether or not to include ISDS is to be taken during the final phase of negotiations, it cannot be ignored that the US position is also that investment protection and ISDS should feature in the TTIP.

Whilst the consultation received an extremely high proportion of pre-populated responses organised by NGOs (which generally opposed the inclusion of ISDS), it also solicited responses from a broad cross-section of stakeholders which has allowed the Commission to identify a number of key points areas (or “core issues”) to develop. These are:

  • The protection of the right to regulate
  • The supervision and functioning of arbitral tribunals
  • The relationship between ISDS arbitration and domestic remedies
  • Review of ISDS decisions for legal correctness through an appellate mechanism

The Commission has committed to further consultation with EU stakeholders in the first quarter of 2015.  However, at this stage it is not clear how further consultation on these “core issues” will put the Commission in a better position to develop the investment chapter. For example, the “right to regulate” is the flip-side of the guarantee to an investor of fair and equitable treatment. Any re-consideration of the right to regulate will be deficient if it does not take into account the positive rights of investors which impact on the state’s right, as well as the sectors in which such right should exist without limitation. Again, the relationship between ISDS arbitration and domestic remedies depends on the balance struck between investment protections and the rights of states.  A holistic approach is needed.

The Commission’s Report on the responses to the Consultation is found here, and the accompanying Commission Memo is found here. Aspects of the Report are considered in further detail below. You may also wish to hear Herbert Smith Freehills public international law partner Matthew Weiniger QC discussing these issues on the Today programme on Radio 4 on 14 January 2014 (at 18.55 mins into the broadcast).

For further information, please contact Matthew Weiniger QC, partner, Christian Leathley, partner, or Andrew Cannon, partner, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

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Repaving the Southeast Asian Silk Road: EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement negotiations concluded

In the wake of the recent agreement of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (EU-Canada CETA) and after just over a year of negotiations, the EU and Singapore have released their free trade Agreement (EUSFTA) to the public.  (See our recent blog post on CETA here). According to a statement released by the European Commission, the EUSFTA aims to ensure a high level of investment protection, whilst preserving the EU and Singapore’s right to regulate.  It will replace the 12 existing Bilateral Investment Agreements (BITs) between Singapore and European Member States.  The text of the EUSFTA can be found here.

Whilst the conclusion of this agreement is highly significant, the reference to the European Court of Justice to which it has given rise could perhaps be even more so.  Please see our recent blog post here, explaining the European Commission’s request for an ECJ Opinion on the EU’s competence to enter into EUSFTA.

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European Commission requests European Court of Justice Opinion on competence to enter into EU-Singapore FTA

On 30 October the European Commission issued a press release announcing its intention to seek an opinion from the European Court of Justice as to the interpretation of the Lisbon Treaty in the context of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

There has been a great deal of furore surrounding the negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the United States of America and the agreement in principle of the text of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, largely focused on the need for investment protection and the use of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). As a result, the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement talks between the European Union and Singapore on 17 October 2014 has been overlooked by many. However, the conclusion of these talks has brought one of the many unresolved issues in this area to a head.

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EU sanctions update: EU extends sanctions against Syria and amends sanctions against Libya and Somalia; further developments relating to Ukraine/Russia

Herbert Smith Freehills has published the latest edition of its Sanctions Update e-bulletin on recent developments in various international sanctions regimes. At EU level these are relatively limited:

  • The EU has announced additional sanctions in respect of the situation in Syria, extending the designated persons list and announcing an imminent restriction on the export of jet fuel to Syria;
  • Minor amendments have also been made to the EU sanctions against Libya and Somalia; and
  • The EU has published two new sets of conclusions on the situation in Ukraine, but these do not discuss possible changes to the sanctions regime.

In the UK, a new Overseas Territories Order extends the current EU sanctions relating to Russia/Ukraine to the British Overseas Territories including the Cayman and British Virgin Islands. Updated guidance on the Russia trade sanctions has been issued by the Export Control Organisation.

To read the full briefing, please click here.

For further information, please contact Rod Fletcher, Partner, Susannah Cogman, Partner, Daniel Hudson, Partner, Elizabeth Head, Associate, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Rod Fletcher
Rod Fletcher
Partner
+44 20 7466 2411
Susannah Cogman
Susannah Cogman
Partner
+44 20 7466 2580
Daniel Hudson
Daniel Hudson
Partner
+44 20 7466 2470
Elizabeth Head
Elizabeth Head
Associate
+44 20 7466 7555

Long-awaited EU-Canada trade agreement agreed – a blueprint to set the standard for future investment protection?

On Friday 26 September, after five years of negotiations, the EU and Canada agreed in principle to a text for the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). It is certainly comprehensive, running to 1,500 pages. It is the first such agreement signed by the EU as part of its policy (since the Lisbon Treaty) of assuming competence for trade and investment from the individual Member States. Its contents have therefore been keenly anticipated as an indication of the tone of future agreements, particularly as regards investment protection and investor-state dispute resolution (ISDS) contained in Chapter X.

CETA’s provisions are comprehensive as regards both of these areas, but with significant caveats, largely mirroring the drafts that have so far been made public in the EU-US forthcoming agreement in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) (see our earlier post on the TTIP consultation here).

As its Preamble sets out, the agreement expressly recognizes “that the protection of investments… stimulates mutually beneficial business activity“. At the same time, it stresses principles of governmental autonomy (including enforcement of labour and environmental laws) which can in some circumstances limit the rights of the investor. It also points out the responsibility of businesses to respect “internationally recognized standards of corporate social responsibility“, bringing these soft law norms into the ambit of the agreement.

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New regulation sets out financial responsibility for investor-state disputes between the European Union and third countries

Today (17 September 2014) a new European Regulation enters into force (EU No 912/2014) with wide-ranging implications for the global investment community. The Regulation allocates financial responsibility going forward, for claims brought by non-EU investors for harm done to their investment within the European Union. Depending on who was involved in the treatment in question – a Member State or a body, institution or agency of the EU itself, responsibility is allocated accordingly.

The rules will only be applied to investor-state disputes brought under agreements to which the EU is itself a party and which incorporate an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) is one such treaty already in existence and several bilateral investment treaties (BITs) between the EU and third states are in the process of being negotiated, in some cases with a view to replacing the current BITs between EU Member States and third states. This forms part of a wider re-evaluation of investment issues and the relative competences of individual Member States and the EU.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has described the Regulation as “another building block in our efforts to develop a transparent, accountable and balanced investor-to state dispute settlement mechanism as part of EU trade and investment policy.”

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TTIP: EU Commission publishes statistical report on responses to the public consultation on ISDS and investment protection

On 18 July, the EU Commission published its Preliminary Report (statistical overview) on the responses to its consultation on investment protection and ISDS in the TTIP (for discussion of the consultation, see our previous blog post).

The Preliminary Report demonstrates that there was considerable interest in the consultation, with a total of 149,399 online replies. The greatest number of replies came from the UK at 34.8%, with 22.59% from Austria and 21.76% from Germany. The high proportion of responses from Germany in particular is unsurprising, given that the German Government’s approach to ISDS has received considerable coverage in both the legal and mainstream press.

Significantly, over 99% of responses were submitted by individuals (with only 569 by organisations, many of which were NGOs). 42% of the respondents agreed that their contribution can be made public and the Commission will publish those responses in due course.

The Commission will now analyse the responses, a task which it says is unlikely to be completed before November. It remains to be seen how the response analysis will influence the EU’s approach to negotiations of these issues with the US.

For further information, please contact Christian Leathley, Partner, Hannah Ambrose, Professional Support Lawyer, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

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EU publishes legislation imposing sectoral sanctions on Russia

Herbert Smith Freehills has issued the latest edition of its Sanctions Update e-bulletin on new EU regulations, published on 30 and 31 July 2014, that expand sanctions against Russia in response to the situation in Ukraine. These regulations enact the measures announced by the EU on 29 July 2014.

This briefing provides a summary of the legislation, in particular providing further detail in respect of the following:

  • Restrictions on certain Russian banks’ access to EU capital markets;
  • Trade restrictions relating to the Russian energy and defence industries;
  • Trade restrictions on Crimea and Sevastopol; and
  • Additional individuals and entities designated under the EU asset freezing provisions.

For further information, please contact Rod Fletcher, Partner, Susannah Cogman, Partner, Daniel Hudson, Partner, Elizabeth Head, Associate, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Rod Fletcher
Rod Fletcher
Partner
+44 20 7466 2411
Susannah Cogman
Susannah Cogman
Partner
+44 20 7466 2580
Daniel Hudson
Daniel Hudson
Partner
+44 20 7466 2470
Elizabeth Head
Elizabeth Head
Associate
+44 20 7466 7555

Sanctions Update: EU and US introduce further sanctions in response to the situation in Ukraine; EU amends sanctions against Libya, Central African Republic and Syria

Herbert Smith Freehills has published its latest Sanctions Update e-bulletin, on the latest developments in sanctions regimes in Ukraine, Libya, Central African Republic and Syria.

Both the EU and US have introduced limited additional sanctions in light of the current situation in Ukraine, and Australia has announced its list of Ukraine-related designated persons.  The EU has also announced amendments to its sanctions against Libya, the Central African Republic and Syria.  Of these developments, the most significant is a ban on the import into the EU of goods from Crimea and Sevastopol, and any associated financing or re/insurance by EU persons.

For further information, please contact Susannah Cogman, Partner, Elizabeth Head, Associate, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Susannah Cogman
Susannah Cogman
Partner
+44 20 7466 2580
Elizabeth Head
Elizabeth Head
Associate
+44 20 7466 7555

Europe consults on investment protection and ISDS in the TTIP

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on its proposed approach to investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (the TTIP).  The TTIP is a free trade agreement currently in negotiation between the United States and the European Union. Negotiations for the TTIP began in July 2013.

The Commission has described its approach as containing “a series of innovative elements that the EU proposes using as the basis for the TTIP negotiations” and stated that the key issue on which it is consulting is “whether the EU’s proposed approach for TTIP achieves the right balance between protecting investors and safeguarding the EU’s right and ability to regulate in the public interest”.

Whilst the EU is not consulting on a draft text of the TTIP, it has included as a reference text the investment protection and ISDS provisions in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (the CETA), between the EU and Canada. 

Whilst we are currently a long way from a signed agreement including investment protection and ISDS provisions, stakeholders may nonetheless want to take this opportunity to consider the ways in which the EU’s approach and the negotiations could impact upon them.  The European Commission’s Consultation can be found here and closes on 6 July 2014.

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