ttip-protestIt’s clear that the EU-US trade deal negotiations have hit a few speed bumps. Participants complain that the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP) have become bogged down in details, stuck over long-standing disputes such as US public procurement rules and French cultural protection laws, and have “lost their way”.

When we spoke earlier this year to the then-EU Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, he argued that much of the criticism of TTIP was misplaced. In particular, he believed that the argument that TTIP would erode rights and standards in the EU was “completely false, yet it is spreading like a kind of virus.”

To get a better idea about what TTIP represents, and some of the arguments for and against, you can see our infographic below (click on the image for a bigger version):


One of the current sticking points in the negotiations is over the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). It is fairly common in international trade agreements to include this sort of investor protection, providing a neutral forum for investors to sue governments for compensation under specific circumstances. For example, the ISDS provides protection if investors are discriminated against based on their nationality, or if their investment is expropriated without compensation.

However, some of our commenters argue that the ISDS undermines democracy. For example, Anders sent us in the following comment:

citizen_icon_180x180TTIP in its current form allows corporations to SUE countries and governments over laws “limiting” their operations. This opens the door wide open to abuse of all kinds by big corporations, and effectively renders governments and countries in the pockets of Big Business. Democracy will suffer horrendously, freedom and rights that we currently have will also be adversely affected.

We put this comment to Peter Chase, Vice President, Europe of the US Chamber of Commerce. How would he respond to Anders?

peter-chase[…] Sometimes even the best governments make mistakes. And sometimes rights under an international treaty cannot be enforced in a domestic court of law. This is why violations of these promises must be heard in neutral international tribunals with Investor-State Dispute Settlement.

And this is why the US business community will not accept investment protection provisions without ISDS – laws without effective enforcement are meaningless. The U.S. made that mistake once, in the US Free Trade Agreement with Australia, which does not have ISDS. Ever since, the US government has had to fight to explain why ISDS is needed in an agreement with one country when it wasn’t needed with Australia. How do you tell a country you trust its legal system less than you trust that of another? And ethically, in the end, these principles of fair treatment, and their enforcement, should apply to all countries equally.

We also spoke to Fredrik Erixon, Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), a world-economy think tank based in Brussels that supports an ambitious and comprehensive EU-US Free Trade Agreement. He suspected there was some room for negotiation:

fredrik-erixonInvestor protection issues have only quite recently begun to be dealt with at the EU level, which means that Europe is still in the process of trying to flesh out its own policies. And this is part of the reason why ISDS issues have become controversial over the past year […] which is the main reason why the European Commission wants to put a moratorium on the negotiations in TTIP over investor protection issues.

So, it’s a new issue. And it’s seen as an opportunity for each side to flesh out a new sort of policy. Not necessarily a full compromise position – where you put together the type of agreement that Member States had prior to investor protection becoming an EU issue – but that is part of the process…

My reading of the US position is that they are open to negotiations, and it’s not that they have a policy which is written in stone and they are not willing to change any parts of it…

Should an independent investor protection mechanism be left out of the EU-US trade agreement? Can a compromise be reached? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Mehr Demokratie

65 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • avatar
      Tim Swann

      Er.. did you mean “Yes it should be left out, we don’t want it” or “No it should be left in” ???

  1. avatar
    Breogán Costa

    And they could approve anything, we are going to stop that, even EU if it is necessary and it continues betraying us

  2. avatar
    catherine benning

    Overgrown companies, especially those with accounts held off shore to enable them to avoid taxation, should be unable to raise this kind of proposition for any governments in the first place.

    And according to this information, we have been silenced anyway. Now why is that I wonder.

    I repeat what I have written previously and frequently, we are not the USA. We do not vote for their President. We do not have political parties who offer the kind of stultifying policies they offer the American people. And we don’t want them or it to rule our way of life ever.

    Those who are contemplating this disastrous way forward for the people of Europe must be getting some kind of unbelievable kick back. And an investigation should be started at once to find out exactly what is going on behind the scenes.

    My understanding is, a similar idea was accepted by South America and it has turned into a grotesque game of fleece the people right across their continent also.


    • avatar
      catherine benning

      I forgot to add that through this TTIP we in the UK will be stuck with the US Lockheed Martin Company who are tendering for contracts to run our health service. And should our government find this firm is going against our best interests, and it’s a defence company, so what are they doing trying to move into the NHS, it will be able to sue the British for compensation if we want rid of them. This means the British tax payer will be taken to the cleaners by US treachery. We would have to be as mad as hatters to take on this confidence trick.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Catherine Benning
      TTIP = a terrible/horrible/horrendous/despicable one-way trip to a NWO.

      The USA AND the EU [created, devised and controlled by ‘nasty’ Germany and its poodle France] are EQUALLY culpable.

      The rumoured TTIP tenets may well cause rioting in the streets.

    • avatar
      Penny Ward

      Catherine, thank you for your posts. The U.S. elite already have contracts with the U.K. Government.

      Concentrix, who came under fire for their appalling shambles of a job working as subcontractors for the HMRC (they began last November) and now also the sole collector of court fines in the UK ( is owned by Synnex Corporation. A U.S. company that has The Big Four amongst it’s shareholders: Black Rock, Fidelity (check out their logo), Vanguard and State Street. These four are the major shareholders in the worlds largest companies, the largest banks in the world.

      Most people were surprised that Concentrix gained this further contract with the UK government considering the heavy criticism they received for their contract with HMRC.

      On a personal note, Concentrix are currently ignoring my Subject Access Requests, made under the Data Protection Act. Both written requests for information were returned to me with no response. A complaint is being lodged with the Information Commissioner. Concentrix also refuse to accept emails sent from individuals.

  3. avatar
    Ivan Vikalo

    my impression is that companies can already sue gov. so this is not a novelty as it happens often. Now, the difference here is that we are talking about an international treaty, although this was the same as with the Dijon Case in the EU when companies could sue EU member states for not following EU rules which is then normal today, and then even citizens can sue gov. for violating EU rules. So, I think we should be careful in setting the question up in this way.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @Ivan Vikalo:

      And if it is, that doesn’t make it an acceptable policy. So, out with both of them the old way and this new offer to be fleeced. Get rid of those companies who deny the people they sell to the taxes they have a right to expect. And force them to hand over in full, all that is owed before accountants massaged the figures for them. Then go on to increase these taxes to corporations at a level that is paid by the poorest in our societies, presently 65% in the UK. This will then insure against our losses.

  4. avatar
    Dory Moutran

    Should an individual be able to sue governments because his country of origins has different laws?

  5. avatar
    Umberto Banchieri

    It is already normal. The international arbitration is a normal procedure provided for almost all international commercial contracts of some importance.
    The question is not set up good in this way.

  6. avatar
    James McManama

    Should governments be able to seize the property of investment without offering compensation? Should governments be able to discriminate against foreign investors? These are the things the international arbitration process is supposed to protect investors from.

  7. avatar
    Dimitris Paschalidis-Valof

    It is beyond unethical a company should always follow the interest of the public on the long run we can’t even imagine what a private police force run by a company could do. It’s like returning to feudalism. NO NO NO that’s the answer

  8. avatar
    Jaime Martins

    NO NO NO NO NO NO. The world belongs to everyone, not just the few who think are owners.

  9. avatar
    Trond Johannessen

    The “unspoken”: what will be the consequences for the mergers and acquisitions markets, and corresponding ownership of assets and capital post TTIP? Are European industries prepared for the TTIP implementation? Are there any engineered crises tapping the blood from European industry, such as Russia/Ukraine? Why? Will Telecom regulations be impacted by TTIP and union wide operators prior to giving North American operators a right so far denied the operators in Europe? Are there similar regulatory hurdles that fist should be torn down inside the union prior to inviting the outside world to profit from our lack of preparation?

  10. avatar

    No kidding, I always wanted to drive an american muscle (Dodge Challenger RT) on a German Autobahn. So count me in for EU-US Free Trade Agreement.

    • avatar
      catherine benning


      Why don’t you apply for entry and residence in the USA? Then, after the required time working and paying your taxes, fill out the forms for citizenship. That way you will not have to wait to drive one of these ugly tanks on a good wide Freeway. Not only that you will be able to take one highway all the way from NYC to LA in one go. Or, could it be you are afraid you won’t qualify as an alien? They don’t give welfare and they don’t like those who have no money. They call them losers. Feel you could be one of these if you try?

      This then will set all Europeans free from your narrow minded fantasy.

  11. avatar
    Paolo Pedone

    ‘Cause It’ ll be very very too dangerous for all the European and Mediterranean Food staffs & productions…: No ” DOP “, NO ” DGT ” , ” NO ” controlls actually requirend in..( .at least stopped )..!

    • avatar

      @C. Benning

      Being there, done that. Is too much to bear for the debate trotskyste ?

  12. avatar
    Spyros Kouvoussis

    business can sue government when governments harm them. Now, they will have the “right” to sue governments when they believe their profits get affected. e.g. A government raising minimum wages will get sued. Or if it helps workers get more bargaining power. Any kind of pro-worker policies, like the ones promised by Syriza or Podemos will be illegal and government will get sued. And it’s not going to be a court which will deside but private lawyers, obviously bought and paid by corporations. That’s the future EU wants for its cizitens.

  13. avatar
    Tiago Miranda

    TTIP should not go forward! The idea here is making companies have power over the State, and consequently over the People!

    • avatar
      Chalks Corriette

      Yep we hear you and agree. Big Business is only interested in even bigger business. And as for governments – they tax the things they want us to reduce – alcohol, cigarettes and jobs!

    • avatar
      Penny Ward

      That is their intention.

  14. avatar
    Jaume Roqueta

    Companies should be able to slave any person they want… we have been created by GOD in order to obey the IMF, ECB….

  15. avatar
    Nuno Oliveira

    Already the WTO agreements were a disaster for local economies, this will be the final axe for any other companies except multinationals that are only european in name

  16. avatar
    Mhitsos Xanthos

    What a question. It’s the most important aspect of TTIP that companies can and will sue governments should the governments forbid them to wreck havoc on the environment and poison the people. We in Europe will eat the Monsanto toxic crap and not even know it because it won’t be even written on the label.

  17. avatar
    Brian Watson

    ISDS , a lawyer’s charter to print money for themselves and their corporate clients at the expense of governments whilst being immune from appeal process . Kick this pernicious try on by vested interest into the long grass

  18. avatar
    Chalks Corriette

    The OMP’s (Ordinary Members of the Public) are always last in the order of benefits. Business, banks, and very rich people can right off complex bad/poor investments without having to personally be held to account. For us OMP’s when the going gets into a mess – we clean up the mess with our taxes, when big deals go wrong, OMP’s pick up the mess when more people join the jobless, when government and business deals do not deliver on the expected benefits – yep you guessed it, the OMP’s have to live with what ever result there is. This has to stop. If this TTIP and such other deals were so good, we would have looked into it before now. So, yes OMP’s want the world to trade better and create new jobs – but NO we do not want the OMP’s to be part of yet another failed experiment. Big business care’s about even bigger business – its live a virus they cannot get rid of.

  19. avatar
    Владимир Павлов

    Governments with the use of referendums should nationalise any corporation breaking the law and causing unwanted effects on society. (like Citigroup banks and their subsidiaries for example)

  20. avatar
    Omar Mateiro

    Yes they should but that helps to ensure iqual oportunities for companies from both sides!

  21. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    no doubt it is necessary to improve state services and ensure equal opportunities for all companies on both sides when the sun rises is for everyone

  22. avatar
    David Alan Roden

    The problem is really one of trust- we the people don’t trust the appointed politicians to negotiate with our best interests in mind. On the contrary a large proportion expect them to negotiate in their own best interests and against the interests of the people. This is a sad state of affairs. Fix the political system and then earn the respect and trust of the people. Commissioners that nominate themselves and etc. does not promote trust and respect for example. A parliament that is forced against its wishes to ferry between Brussels and Strasbourg and back every month does not help with respect – it demonstrates the impotence of their only elected representatives.

  23. avatar
    armindo silveira

    As empresas não estão acima da logo terão que concorrer com as leis existentes e os conflitos serem deprimidos nos tribunais nacionais e, em último caso, no tribunal europeu. Criar tribunais arbitrais para que as empresas possam subjugar os Estados, é um crime com o qual os cidadãos europeus nunca irão pactuar.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @J P Schoffer Petricek
      Please kindly provide proof regarding your interesting assertion.

      Thank you

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      @ J P Schoffer Petricek

      ……….silence from the silent majority? Sorry, but let’s be blunt but HONEST:

      To remain silent- is exactly what the EC-JUNCKER gang prefers! Truly unquestionable acceptance of the dogma of the church of the EU- EC- “Team Juncker” – that is what its High Priest expects & demands!

      However- some infidel citizen do see the light- interested?

    • avatar
      Paul X

      J P Schoffer Petricek.. I bow down before you in honor of the great gift god has bestowed on you…the ability to mind read a silent majority

  24. avatar
    Zahar Zaharescu Limonada

    everybody should be allowed to sue anybody. it can’t work otherwise. the real problem is the ISDS creating an alternative legal system accessible just to corporations.

  25. avatar
    Gogo Ipi


  26. avatar

    No! Governments represent (where democracy rules) the citizens of organized societies. The MNCs represent ΙΔΙΩΤΕΣ (idiots=privates; greek-origin word). To put the already powerful MNCs to a even more powerful, non-controlable position to defy the local legislation, means to DELETE DEMOCRACY and STATEHOOD.-

  27. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    A special ISDS clause to open the flood gates for all the claim hungry US lawyers- to make it easy for them to sue “us taxpayers” or everybody else left right & center- NO WAYS- NEVER!

    US corporations will swallow & spit the EU out in any case with or without ‘special business’ protection. If they US corporate don’t like that, the EC must shelf the TTIP!

    The US is too powerful- not a struggling “weak third world” country in need of motherly protection. It is a global adventurer, practicing commercial & political espionage, keeping surveillance on everyone and everything to further their own geopolitical, global military, financial & intellectual property dominance- regardless!

    Once the Spanish EC Chief Negotiator & DG of Trade Garcia Bercero is done with the TTIP, it will be accepted as a matter of fact by the EC & the pro EU- EP “majority” faction, who will rubber stamp it into law. That’s it than!

    Although trade & tariff agreements are common WTO practice- of great concern is that all quoted (“only positive”) facts & figures are repeated over & over by all blind TTIP supporters & seem to be based on only ONE “independent in depth report” by the “Center for Economic Policy Research” in London- which the EC commissioned and paid ~78,500 Euro for. How do the members states compensate for the loss in revenue in their budget- when tariff income falls away- higher Vat or income tax- what?

    Seemingly, no effort was made to either confirm or dispute these published figures by other reputable think tanks or University research! What if they are “tweaked”, or false?

    Risk and reward is part of business and the super rich clique does not deserve special protection for their money making endeavors on the back of EU taxpayers! It may nullify any trade advantage- and only enriches smart lawyers. They must use existing “avenues” to seek recourse from unlawful government actions- if any.

  28. avatar
    catherine benning

    Here is an example of what the US open take over of Europe through TTIP will be like. Amercian medieval ideas of serfdom and a return to the slavery we see in the third world. And if we don’t allow it they will sue us as tax payers through our governments.

    This is what the criminal Juncker backs. Oppression and fraud is his main mantra and it is how he managed to manipulate his way into the office he holds. An unelected ‘by the public’ position.Which no democratic society should allow.

    Wake up people, this man is simply in the shadows trying desperately to keep his head down until they can push the crock called TTIP down our throats and openly insist we do things the Corporate way, or be like Russia, threatened with bankruptcy. Where will we turn to release ourselves from such a horrendous move?

  29. avatar
    Jack Poole Fuste

    US is an utter mess with it’s sue culture. We’ll end up spending idiotic amounts of money of protecting our tax payers. Look at Australlian companies suing (iirc) Honduras government for protecting their peoples water supply. People should come above profits. As soon as someone is faceless in a company, they stop caring about who they hurt, as long as their underline is fine.

  30. avatar
    Giannis Lainas

    ?nother big problem is with local products being protected by EU laws (protected designation of origin PDO)…example,feta cheese….no product can be named feta cheese if its made outside of Greece….in Canada and US that is not the case,meaning Canadian dairy producers do produce feta cheese without regulations,basically that would mean that small-local producers in Greece wont be able to compete with big dairy corporations….feta cheese was just an example,there are hundreds if not thousands products like that in all of the EU countries…..another economic blow to the EU citizen,one of the many in the recent years.No more,get a grib with reality alrd,there in Brussels.

  31. avatar
    catherine benning

    It dawned on me recently when I began to read more of this Globalisation crock, when were the public ever asked if they wanted to have their democracies or countries taken over by foreign corporations who have such a powerful hold over our governments? Anyone remember this sell out being in a manifesto or openly discussed and voted on by the people? I don’t.

    Example, the UK has quite literally had its prisons, ports, manufacturing based bought up en masse by people who run companies from foreign lands who have no intention of sticking to the rules they buy it under or promise to follow. They bring their own countries practices with them, whatever those practices may be. Take Kraft and Cadbury’s in the UK as an example. And when the people who runs this show was ordered to face our panel of adjudicators in our parliament they refused to turn up. Yet they had openly broken the contract obligations knowing full well the company had no intention of keeping them in the first place. Similar to this so called American tycoon above.

    My point is, how was our country sold out this way via a few idiot politicians who either didn’t’ have the noose to know what was going on under their noses, or, was paid bribes to do so. This suggests these people should be charged with illegal mismanagement of the countries interests or be charged with fraud against the State. No one voted for this, and like this TTIP we knew nothing of it as it was done behind closed doors. In secret.

    Time to take back our countries from these hurry come ups and make them pay for robbing the people of their democracies by selling us out on the quiet.

    And this is going on Globally, not simply in Europe, as this articles suggests. It is now fully apparent, Globalisation is a confidence trick and those in on it should be jailed for life, never to be able to pull a scam like this again.

    The lawyers who set this up should likewise be sued for fraud and incarcerated for life.

  32. avatar
    Susanne Lautrop

    When will it be a matter of referendum, meaning the accept of the peoples, when new treaties are set up. This route of action is the direct way to civil war. Not a very uplifting perspective.

  33. avatar

    Absolutely not. No government should ever be allowed to bind its successor.

    A government must carry out the will of the voters, and if those change their mind and elect another government that government must be able to undo bad treaties and bad agreements.

    Human value must be placed ahead of corporate interests at all times.

    If a treaty is negotiated behind closed doors with full access for corporate CEO’s and no access for elected members of parliaments, that alone should be a major red flag, and tell you this treaty is 100% unacceptable.

  34. avatar

    Why does allow Peter Chase to peddle his lies and propaganda here? The man loves corporations and hates workers and ordinary people.

  35. avatar

    The free world has traded very well for a long time , where is it in the interests of the peoples in the EU , a company trades with another , should the UK leave the EU , the EU would then ask of the UK if it would want trade with EU , the UK would have to deliver their goods to EU , in the policy form that was acceptable , meeting all the EU had asked under these trading policy laws. But I do not think the EU would allow the UK to sue them if the product was not benificial to its people , so UK would have to adhere to supplie goods under EU rules to safe gaurd it’s people from harm, and UK could sue the EU because UK product does not sell well ! Compensation, NO! EU should say we in Europe have safety in all cases for its peoples , and the US trade must accept or walk away . And EU should not try to appease to get a deal that will be prosperous not only to the big giant corporate companies . But also to the EU officials who will prosper in wealth by greed. Many have suffered through greed. And greed is rife in its rich club. Say no these are our rules . You do not like them, then no buiness can be done end of story, this should be a completely open debate for critics and expert critics to sit at tabe and hear what is going on. Because I believe this TTIP will go through regardless . Not caring if it’s acceptable to peoples or not . We do not trust you , daily we hear of the corruption within the EU elite. So my answer is this !. We are safe if we reject the European Union. . And return to our idetities and prosper as seperate nations. Trading with each other . War is not going to come unless it comes from the east not Russia but Far East , turkey will never accept change to their cultures or accept western values or laws only their own . So we return to our identities . But you are pushing for a larger union of all peoples . That is were the wars will come from.

  36. avatar
    Olivia Sena

    The ISDS provides protection under specific circumstances. I feel that is only normal some kind of protection, under SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES to be offered. Like discrimination based on nationality. It is wrong to deny a company simply because it’s American and you hate Americans cause you know, all conspiracy theories. Yet of course, the circumstances should be clear and specific. Maybe it would be wise to include causes that in situations of public interest, governments can deny such companies. Now of course, public interest doesnt mean a bunch of lunatics that read some stories on internet, and went crazy.

  37. avatar

    No its absolutely awful idea. A good example is JT International who was able to sue Australia by changing its division to Hong Kong, after an Australian state tribunal found them in the wrong, and claimed violation of the free trade agreement from that country. If the Americans want to do trade in Europe ISDS needs to go. Abide by host country laws

  38. avatar

    Corporations should not be capable of suing countries. One of the main advantage of developed economies is a well developed legal system and stable labour and environmental laws.

    Locating a company in a country with the hopes of exploiting cheap labour, low environmental standards and low corporate tax rates should mean taking on the risk that any of those things may disappear due to their inherent instability.

    By guaranteeing a third party system you strip a major advantage from developed economies and restrict the ability of developing economies to actually make a profit off the companies that go to them, effectively making the public servant to corporate interests. The issues of the 21st century so far is not the difficulty of companies to globalize nor the shortage of corporate profits.

  39. avatar
    S Bowen

    I can only see this as another boost for large businesses. This is against all laws of democracy and immoral.

  40. avatar
    Paul Buckland

    Should companys be allowed to sued governments? no if it was up to the companys people would still be on £1 a hour, i no that we the people are not the true owners and we no who runs things.
    People must wake up befor its to late and it will be the children and future generations that will suffer, and in the end that is how wars start if people get pushed too far.
    People say we are now in ww3 but this is just the start of things to come wait when things start to kick off god help us all.

  41. avatar
    Sarah Lovell

    So we are on course too be tied into hugely dangerous anti democratic swing resulting in countries being subject to even more bureaucracy which could result in a country getting sued? Who came up with this, it’s plain crazy.

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