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ISDS decision delayed to end of TTIP talks

Anti-trade agreement flyer. Berlin, Christmas 2014/ [Joel Schalit]

Anti-trade agreement flyer. Berlin, Christmas 2014/ [Joel Schalit]

The European Union won’t decide whether to include the investor- state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) clause in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) until the “final phase of the negotiations” with the US.

ISDS is controversial because it allows investors to take governments to international arbitration tribunals rather than to domestic courts. It could be dropped, modified or kept in its current form, when the trade pact is finally sealed. The US wants ISDS included in the landmark free trade agreement

The European Commission will issue policy recommendations after further discussions early this year with member states, the European Parliament and other organisations such as NGOs, trade unions and business associations, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said today in Strasbourg (13 January).

Negotiations on investment in TTIP were suspended in January 2014. They will only resume once the Commission believes its new proposals guarantee, among other things, that the jurisdiction of national courts won’t be limited by special regimes for investor-to-state disputes.

The final decision, which must be ratified by both EU Council and Parliament in a full vote, will only be taken with the agreement of European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave Timmermans the veto. He will ensure ISDS complies with the rule of law, and principles of equality and transparency, according to a memo published by the executive.

The Council vote can be passed by a qualified majority, while a majority of MEPs must back the trade pact.

The executive pointed out that it was given a unanimous mandate by all EU governments to include ISDS in the free trade agreement, provided certain conditions were met.

While some national governments have railed against the clause, none have yet asked for the mandate to be changed to remove ISDS.

For ISDS to be dropped, EurActiv understands that the negotiating mandate will have to be changed. That would not be possible without a qualified majority vote in the Council.

Those conditions were outlined in the TTIP negotiating mandate, handed to the Commission by EU governments. The documents were finally officially made public in October last year, after about 17 months of being freely available online.

Read>> Whole story on EurActiv

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This entry was posted on January 13, 2015 by in Journalism, TTIP and tagged , , , , .

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