International investment courts would deprive member states of their powers to interpret and apply EU law
A group of German judges have just dealt a serious blow to the European Commission’s desperate TTIP ‘compromise’. They’ve issued a damning indictment on the proposal for an ‘international investment court’, which the EU Commission hoped would get them out of the deep mess that the TTIP negotiations are in.
To recap: millions of people across Europe have expressed outrage at the proposal in the US-EU trade deal – known as TTIP – for a corporate court system which allows foreign corporations to sue governments in secret arbitration panels. Formally known as ISDS, the corporate courts are already being used in countless other treaties to sue governments for anything from raising the minimum wage to protecting the environment.
So the EU trade commissioner Malmström came up with a ‘compromise’. Rather than operating an ad hoc corporate court system, she wants to set up a proper, permanent international court for investors, with proper judges and more transparency. The problem, of course, is that this simply lends a whiff of legitimacy to a system which puts the profits of corporations ahead of the rights of ordinary people.
But the #noTTIP campaigners feared the compromise might win a few important votes over in the European Parliament. Thank heavens, therefore, for the Germany’s biggest association of judges, who’ve injected some sense into the discussion.
Their statement ‘rejects the proposal of the European Commission to establish an investment court’ saying ‘neither is there a legal basis nor the necessity’ for such a court.
A primary concern of the judges, and one shared by campaigners, is that,’the creation of special courts for certain groups of litigants is the wrong way forward’.
Creating special legal privileges for big business and other investors (who can already afford more access to the law than ordinary people), is clearly the path to further inequality in our already deeply unequal society.
In fact, the judges question whether ‘the European Union has the competence to institute an investment court’ given that it would force member states to submit to that court, and therefore undermine their sovereignty.by