European Union (EU) member states have signed over 1300 investment treaties with third countries, in addition to some 200 between EU members. Non-EU European states are party to over 500 treaties. Most of these contain investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, which enable foreign corporations to take ISDS claims against states if they deem their profits or potential investment to be affected by new laws or changes in policy.

The EU has ratified four agreements with an ISDS mechanism: the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), to which 53 European and Central Asian countries are party, the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, and agreements with Vietnam and Singapore. Only the ECT has been fully in force. The ISDS provisions in the three others will be implemented after all member states have ratified them.

These three deals also include a revised ISDS mechanism created by the European Commission, known as the investment court system. Many critics say that this new system is largely window-dressing and does not address the core of the problem behind investor-state dispute measures.

In 2015, the European Commission asked the EU member states to terminate their intra-EU bilateral investment treaties (BITs), arguing they are incompatible with EU law, which was confirmed by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its “Achmea” decision.

As of April 2020, the number of intra-EU ISDS disputes amounted to 170, approximately 17% of all cases globally, 76 of which having been brought under the ECT.

Overall investors from European countries have initiated over 600 ISDS cases, half of which are against non-European states. European countries have been targeted in about 350 cases. Grouped together, investors from EU member states have launched the majority of total disputes (over 400).

Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Ukraine have been among the ten most frequent respondent states, while the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Italy and Switzerland have been among the ten most frequent home states of the investor.

The most well-known cases include:

Yukos (Isle of Man) vs. Russia: US$50 billion awarded in 2014 to majority shareholders of the oil and gas company (ECT invoked).

Eureko (Netherland) vs. Poland: case settled in 2005 for about €2 billion in favour of the investor, a large European insurance company (Netherland-Poland BIT invoked).

Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka (Czech Republic) vs. Slovak Republic: €553 million awarded in 2004 to the investor, one of the largest commercial banks in the Czech Republic (Czech Republic-Slovak Republic BIT invoked).

Photo: War on Want

(April 2020)

The National | 15-Apr-2024
It is presumed the claim is on the basis of the bilateral investment treaty between Libya and Belgium.
CIAR Global | 12-Apr-2024
El comité ad hoc del procedimiento de anulación solicitado por España en el arbitraje mantenido con la alemana RWE Innogy y la española RWE Innogy Aersa S.A.U. por la reforma de las energías renovables, ante el CIADI, se ha pronunciado a favor de las compañías rechazando el razonamiento de la Abogacía General del Estado española de que el tribunal se extralimitó manifiestamente en sus facultades al contravenir el Derecho de la Unión Europea y aplicar el derecho equivocado.
Zone Bourse | 12-Apr-2024
Le groupe minier australien Berkeley Energia va porter son différend avec l’Espagne devant un tribunal d’arbitrage international après que le pays a refusé de donner son approbation finale à une mine d’uranium près de la ville de Salamanque. | 12-Apr-2024
Australian mining group Berkeley Energia will take its dispute with Spain to international arbitration after the country refused to give final approval to a uranium mine near the city of Salamanca.
La Información | 10-Apr-2024
La empresa ha asegurado que el Gobierno de España no ha mantenido ningún contacto para evitar la disputa y que "no ha tenido más opción que tomar medidas y hacer valer sus derechos en el proyecto de Salamanca".
Euronews | 10-Apr-2024
In a decisive committee vote, MEPs have supported the European Union’s exit from the Energy Charter Treaty over concerns its global investor-state dispute settlement system has been weaponised to sue governments over climate policy. Image d’illustration.
Le Soir | 10-Apr-2024
Le Traité sur la charte de l’énergie a été signé en 1994, au sortir de la guerre froide, pour offrir des garanties aux investisseurs dans les pays d’Europe de l’Est et de l’ex-URSS. Image d’illustration.
Spotmedia | 8-Apr-2024
Romania has placed a lien on over 80% of the shareholding held by Gabriel Resources in Roșia Montană Gold Corporation to recover its $10 million arbitration costs incurred over a 9-year process in Washington.
CDR | 8-Apr-2024
The subject of the arbitration is given as ‘transportation fare collection services’, and invokes the 2001 bilateral investment treaty between Turkey/Türkiye and Yugoslavia as the basis for the claim.
The Times of India | 4-Apr-2024
Switzerland pursues a new bilateral investment treaty with India post EFTA deal, addressing model treaty concerns.India remains reluctant on concessions, focusing on market.