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Investment | Brussels, 21 December 2016

European Commission launches public consultation on a multilateral reform of investment dispute resolution

The European Commission today launched a public consultation to gather stakeholders’ views on possible options for multilateral reform of the way investment disputes are resolved, including the possible establishment of a permanent Multilateral Investment Court.

The idea of multilaterally reforming investment dispute settlement first emerged in the context of the 2014 public consultation on investment protection, where a number of stakeholders pointed to the idea that the reform of investment dispute resolution would be best undertaken multilaterally rather than through bilateral reforms. The Commission also put forward the idea in its 2015 Concept Paper on ‘Investment in TTIP – the path beyond’ and it has been largely supported by the European Parliament and Member States.

For the EU, the permanent Multilateral Investment Court would replace the bilateral Investment Court Systems (ICS) that have been thus far included in the EU trade agreements with Canada and Viet Nam and that is being proposed in all ongoing EU negotiations. The Multilateral Investment Court would apply to all international investment agreements if the Parties to those agreements agreed to resort to it.

Importantly, the idea of embarking in a multilateral reform of investment dispute resolution has gathered significant interest from third countries. The EU’s Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada and the draft Viet Nam-EU free trade agreement contain a reference to setting up a permanent multilateral investment dispute settlement mechanism. The EU includes similar provisions in all of its negotiations involving investment. The shared interest on this project was also evidenced at the exploratory talks held at the technical level with third countries on 13-14 December 2016 in Geneva.

The consultation is open until 15 March 2017.

Take part in the consultation