Norway terminates its IIAs with European Economic Area members

The Government of Norway has been pursuing the termination of its bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with members of the European Economic Area (EEA–EEA membership contains EU and European Free Trade Association members).

In a statement on its website, the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries confirmed that:

“The majority of EU countries have concluded a plurilateral agreement on the termination of bilateral investment protection agreements (BITs) between EU countries. Based on this decision, Norway has conducted its own assessment of Norway’s BITs with other EEA countries and concluded that the agreements should be terminated. We have initiated negotiations on termination agreements with the countries in question, and the negotiations are at various stages. The termination agreements with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Hungary have now entered into force. This means, among other things, that the bilateral investment protection agreements with these countries can no longer be used as a basis for investor–state dispute settlement.” [unofficial translation]

According to the available termination texts and official communications, all the termination agreements include a clause to terminate IIAs’ sunset clauses at the date of the entry into force of the termination agreement. This language confirms that it is the states who are the masters of the treaties and may terminate them with immediate effect.

Such developments may inspire other states to seek mutual termination of their outdated old-generation investment treaties.