EU must reject VIP treatment for corporations in trade deal

23rd February 2016


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Energy ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Chemicals ,
  • Electronics

Author

IEMA

Campaigners are calling on the EU to refuse trade agreements that include special rights for foreign investors.

The EU and US are in ongoing negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with the latest round of talks taking place in Brussels this week.

The potential agreement has been highly controversial with campaigners, who say it would allow multinational corporations to pick and choose the weakest environmental protection rules on either side of the Atlantic, forcing the other side to lower its rules.

They fear proposed provisions, known as investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS), would allow foreign corporations to sue governments for blocking projects on environmental grounds, using arbitration tribunals not accountable to any domestic legal system and which are overseen by judges who are paid per case.

Citizens damaged by the activities of fossil fuel corporations, mining companies, banks, food multinationals or chemical producers do not have access to the same rights, meaning that foreign investors will receive VIP treatment over the rest of society, campaigners say.

A report published today by NGOs, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Transport and Environment, highlights how corporations are already using ISDS in existing trade agreements to override environmental concerns.

TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline project that was rejected by the Obama administration in November 2015, is using the ISDS system that exists in the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) to sue the US government for more than US$15 billion for costs and loss of revenue.

The pipeline would have carried 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of the US, where it would be refined and shipped overseas. Opposition to the project grew into an international campaign, with climate experts and economists joining indigenous leaders, farmers and ranchers.

The EU has proposed an investment court system in TTIP, but this would be operate in a very similar way to the ISDS system, campaigners say. Other companies that have launched legal proceedings under ISDS rules include chemical companies, which have challenged bans on substances suspected of harming human health and the environment, and energy and mining firms, which have had projects rejected on environmental grounds.

Campaigners believe the number of such cases could increase as a result of TTIP and similar trade deals under negotiation, including a pact between the US and Pacific countries, known as TPP, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. Negotiations on these agreements are complete, but the deals have not yet been ratified.

As yet there is no date to complete the TTIP negotiations, although both sides are said to be aiming to reach an agreement before the US elections in November.

In November, the European commission proposed including a chapter on sustainable development, which it said would establish high standards for labour and the environment, and ensure the EU and US worked together to address challenges such as child labour, health and safety at work and protection of the environment.

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

SBTi clarifies that ‘no change has been made’ to its stance on offsetting

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Vanessa Champion reveals how biophilic design can help you meet your environmental, social and governance goals

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

Senior consultant, EcoAct

3rd April 2024

Read more

Around 20% of the plastic recycled is polypropylene, but the diversity of products it protects has prevented safe reprocessing back into food packaging. Until now. David Burrows reports

3rd April 2024

Read more

IEMA presents a digital campaign to share knowledge and inspire action in sustainability

2nd April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close