Belgium CETA deal challenges corporate courts in trade deals

27 October 2016

Friends of the Earth Europe welcomes first reports that Belgium challenges the use of corporate courts as proposed in the EU-Canada trade deal, CETA.

Belgium has apparently stated that four of its regional governments will not ratify the trade deal unless the proposed Investment Court System (ICS) is changed. It will also seek clarification from the European Court of Justice on whether these courts are compatible with European law. Legal experts and law professors have raised serious concerns about the compatibility of ICS with European treaties.

Investment tribunals are outside of a nation's judiciary and allow companies to sue governments if their investments are damaged through new legislation that, for example, protect people or the environment.

Paul de Clerck, economic justice coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe stated: "This could be a good day for democracy. The use of investment tribunals allows companies to sue governments for lost profits if they introduce laws to protect people or the environment. These corporate courts have no place in our democracies and we welcome the stance of the dissenting Belgian regions in contending them."

The current summary of the agreement states that:

  • the five dissenting Belgian regional governments do not have the intention to ratify CETA on the basis of the current chapter on investment protection
  • Belgium will ask the European Court of Justice for an opinion on the compatibility of ICS with European Treaties
  • If one of the regional governments informs the Belgium government about its decision not to ratify CETA, the federal government will inform the Council within maximum 1 year about its intention not to ratify CETA

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