European Commission addresses TTIP concerns at European Parliament meeting

At a March 18, 2015 meeting at the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström presented four “preliminary ideas” to address public concerns about investment in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in negotiation between the European Union and the United States.

To prevent conflicts of interest resulting from the dual rule (arbitrator–lawyer) in investor–state arbitration, the Commissioner emphasized the role of arbitrator rosters. She also supported the idea of a permanent investment court—but aiming at a multilateral one, as a parallel medium-term objective.

The Commissioner also suggested including in TTIP an appeal body with permanent members to review decisions and ensure their consistency. In addition, to prevent giving investors “a second chance to overrule the decisions of national courts,” she proposed provisions to clarify the relationship between domestic systems and investor–state arbitration.

Malmström also discussed clauses to address the concern “that investment arbitration in TTIP will be a barrier to Europe’s noble tradition of high quality regulation.” Such concern is increasingly widespread in Europe. On April 18, thousands in several German cities protested against the TTIP fearing an erosion food, labour and environmental standards.

In the European Parliament, the leading European People’s Party favours investor–state arbitration in the TTIP, but six committees have drafted opinions against it. While not binding, these opinions will be taken into account in the International Trade Committee’s report, to be put to vote on May 28 and presented to the Parliament in June 2015.