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)

Novethic | 24-Oct-2022
Alors que la pression ne cessait de s’accroître sur la France, Emmanuel Macron a finalement annoncé la sortie du pays du Traité sur la charte de l’énergie. Un texte qui freine la transition énergétique européenne. L’Espagne, les Pays-Bas et la Pologne ont déjà annoncé leur retrait du texte.
The Guardian | 24-Oct-2022
Quitting the ECT, which protects fossil fuel investors from policy changes that might threaten their profits, was ‘coherent’ with Paris climate deal, Macron said.
Extractive360 | 21-Oct-2022
Signing the ECT would give the transnational companies in the energy sector a weapon to re-colonise Nigeria, as it would also be incompatible with Nigeria’s economic diversification aspirations.
La Croix | 21-Oct-2022
Dans un avis, le Haut Conseil pour le climat estime que la protection des investissements dans les énergies fossiles dans le Traité sur la charte de l’énergie va à l’encontre des ambitions affichées par l’accord de Paris sur le climat. | 19-Oct-2022
El Gobierno neerlandés anunció este martes que se retirará del controvertido Tratado de la Carta de la Energía (TCE) porque considera que no está en consonancia con el acuerdo climático de París y supone una barrera para lograr los objetivos de reducción del calentamiento global.
Collectif Stop CETA Mercosur | 19-Oct-2022
The Netherlands is leaving a controversial energy treaty because it conflicts with Paris climate accord commitments, energy minister Rob Jetten said
DutchNews | 19-Oct-2022
The Netherlands is leaving a controversial energy treaty because it conflicts with Paris climate accord commitments, energy minister Rob Jetten said
Kluwer Arbitration Blog | 18-Oct-2022
The renegotiated ECT does not rise to the mounting global challenges regarding energy investment, climate action, and sustainable development.
Libération | 18-Oct-2022
Inconnu au bataillon mais très influent sur les politiques écologiques mises en place par les Etats européens, le Traité sur la charte de l’énergie est aujourd’hui sous le feu des critiques des associations.
Ecologistas en Acción | 14-Oct-2022
La ministra para la Transición Ecológica, Teresa Ribera, comunicó a Político que España ha iniciado el proceso de salida del Tratado de la Carta de la Energía (TCE).

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