According to a leaked document, trade ministers from 14 EU member states wrote last week to incoming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, urging him not to jettison “difficult issues” like the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in the face of public opposition – “tempting as it may be” – and reminding him that he has a mandate from EU member states to include some form of ISDS in the trade negotiations with Washington.
The ministers include UK’s Lord Livingston, together with trade ministers from the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Croatia, Malta, Lithuania, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and Latvia.
They wrote: “One of the issues that has attracted criticism is investment protection. The Commission is currently analysing the results of a public consultation on this issue and we look forward to the Commission’s response. The consultation was an important step in ensuring that we strike the correct balance to ensure that governments retain their full freedom to regulate, but not in a way that discriminates against foreign firms… The Council mandate is clear in its inclusion of investor protection mechanisms in the TTIP negotiations; we need to work together on how best to do so.”
However, in an address before the European Parliament on October 22, Juncker expressed a far more ambiguous view of the EU trade negotiating mandate concerning ISDS to that of the 14 ministers, reiterating his belief that there is “no obligation in this regard: the mandate leaves it open and serves as a guide.”
In the same speech, the president-elect said he had given oversight of the contentious ISDS issue to new Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans, a Dutch Social Democrat. “There will be no investor-to-state dispute clause in TTIP if Frans does not agree with it too,” Juncker told the parliament.