Photo of harbour to illustrate story saying CETA investor rules will be judged by highest court in EU

Investor rights to be judged by highest court in Europe as part of Belgian CETA deal

The legality of one of the most controversial elements of the EU-Canada trade deal will be decided by the European Court of Justice.

It’s part of the trade-off agreed by political leaders in Belgium, after the Walloon Parliament vetoed the deal. The signing ceremony for CETA was cancelled on Thursday because the region of Wallonia voted against it.

Laurens Ankersmit, EU trade lawyer for ClientEarth said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the European Court of Justice will get the opportunity to answer this important legal question. The Investment Court System will be judged by the highest court in Europe. It is absolutely essential that this controversial mechanism is legal in the first place.

“We applaud Wallonia for standing firm in its request to get ICS checked by the European Court of Justice.”

The Walloon Parliament questioned the legality of investor rules ISDS and ICS, saying that rule of law in the EU and Canada was sufficiently strong to protect investors without the need for a separate court system.

But under a compromise deal, Belgium has said that it will refer ICS to the European Court of Justice.

In 2015, ClientEarth analysis showed that ISDS and ICS, which would effectively create a court system available only to foreign investors, is incompatible with EU law.

Wallonia called for state-to-state dispute settlement, rather than investor-state dispute settlement. It was also worried that the precautionary principle – which lets policymakers protect people and the environment from things that are suspected to cause harm – was being eroded.

Under Belgium’s federal system, the national government can’t sign the deal until all six regional parliaments approve it. The compromise will also have to get through all the regional parliaments.

ClientEarth recently launched a lawsuit against the Commission, because it refused to disclose official analysis of whether ISDS and ICS are legal. The Commission said sharing the legal reflections would undermine its negotiating position in trade agreements. This contravenes EU transparency laws. The case continues.

Share this...
Share on Facebook! Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn! Email!

Ksenia Kudelkina

Related articles

More from

  • aerial view turquoise navy coastline

    Australian climate reporting lawsuit could have “global ramifications”

    Climate reporting standards will be tested for the first time in the Australian courts. ClientEarth lawyers say it could have global ramifications.

  • Green leaders choose ClientEarth as most effective UK environmental group

    ClientEarth has been voted as the UK’s most effective environmental group by CEOs from across the UK green sector, according to a new report.

  • ClientEarth staff celebrate The Lawyer award

    ClientEarth’s impact recognised at the Lawyer awards

    ClientEarth’s innovative use of law to protect the environment received fresh recognition at the 2017 Lawyer awards last night.

  • Freeway yellow lines plains

    Shareholders win fight to force Exxon to report on climate

    As shareholders demand Exxon reports properly on climate risk, environmental lawyers to question if Exxon is as eager to deliver as it seems.

  • Follow us

    Newsletters

    Get our regular email newsletters, they contain the latest updates on our work as well as features and articles about environmental issues, science and politics.