European Commission slammed over ‘new’ private court system

17 February 2016 - 12:15am
Press release

A new report published today slams the European Commission’s recent proposal on corporate investment courts as nothing more than a cynical rebranding exercise, that highlights the EC’s continued support for big business at the expense of the people of Europe.

Over the past two years, across Europe, much public controversy has surrounded a previously obscure element in international trade agreements: the investor-state dispute settlement system (ISDS). ISDS allows foreign companies to sue governments in their own privileged judicial system for any changes in public policy that affect their profits.   

The European Commission received a record response when it consulted the people of Europe over whether they wanted ISDS.  The answer was unequivocal: over 97% rejected the system.

Last year EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström conceded that ISDS is “the most toxic acronym in Europe”, and in response the European Commission released a revised proposal for all the EU’s ongoing and future investment negotiations, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Instead of the ‘old’ ISDS system, the Commission promised a ‘new’ and independent system: the Investment Court System or ICS.

John Hilary, Executive Director at War on Want, said:

“The European Commission’s rebranding exercise has changed nothing. The alternative Investment Court System, or ICS, may go by a different name but those who stand to benefit remain the corporations and rich individuals.  This sham proposal is an outrageous assault on our democratic rights and freedoms.

“What we will continue to see is the absurdity of countries being sued for introducing anti-smoking legislation, banning toxic chemicals, restricting dirty mining projects and more. In short, the death of democracy and the transfer of taxpayers’ money into the pockets of big business. The anti-democratic European Commission clearly has no interest in the will of the people of Europe.”

UN independent experts have already said ISDS ‘should be abolished’, highlighting how rulings go against human rights law. They also state that arbitration disputes should be settled by domestic courts.


Notes for Editors

For further information and interviews, contact John Hilary on +44 7983 550727 or Ross Hemingway on +44 7983 550728


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