European Union signs trade and investment agreements with Singapore; EU–Japan EPA to enter into force on February 2019

On October 19, 2018, Singapore and the European Union signed political and trade agreements as well as the EU–Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). The texts are intended to be building blocks toward similar ASEAN–EU agreements.

The EU–Singapore IPA is subject to Opinion 2/15 of the ECJ. On May 16, 2017, the court decided that the treaty fell within exclusive EU competence, except for certain provisions that fall within a competence shared between the EU and its member states. These include provisions on investment protection related to portfolio investment and on ISDS. The IPA creates an Investment Court System, following the EU proposal in its recent bilateral agreements.

As a mixed agreement, on the EU side, the IPA will require ratification the European Parliament as well as by national and regional parliaments of EU member states.

On December 12, 2018, the European Parliament approved the EU–Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA), following a similar decision by Japan’s National Diet. Given that the JEEPA does not cover investment protection or ISDS, parliamentary ratification by both partners paves the way for its entry into force on February 1, 2019.

EU–Japan negotiations continue for a potential agreement on investment protection. In the proposed agreement, the European Union has also included a reformed Investment Court System proposal and has stated that “it is clear that there can be no return to the old-style ISDS.”