When it comes to free trade, our politicians have never balked at surrendering state sovereignty to the corporate sector through ISDS or Investor/State Dispute Resolution clauses.
The rules have already been successfully used by businesses to sue countries countless times. Notable cases include French corporation Veolia suing the Egyptian government for raising the minimum wage, and US tobacco giant Philip Morris suing Australia after its government brought in plain cigarette packaging.
As these ISDS tribunals exist outside normal court system, including Europe’s judicial system, the European Court of Justice ruled that they are incompatible with EU law.
ISDS is best known as being part of the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a planned EU-US agreement that sparked protests on both sides of the Atlantic. The rule is also found in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a similarly controversial deal between the EU and Canada, which has not been fully implemented yet because of disagreements over ISDS.
The ruling means TTIP is now “dead in the water”, campaigners say, and it’s also hoped to “spell the end of CETA as we know it”.
“ISDS not only violates EU law, it is also dangerous for democracy, taxpayer money and much needed policies, for example, to combat climate change. Now is the time to stamp out the excessive corporate privileges once and for all,” Pia Eberhardt, CEO of Corporate Europe Observatory, told Big Issue North.