by Jagoda Munić, director of Friends of the Earth Europe
“I want you to act as if our house is on fire”, climate activist Greta Thunberg told politicians at the World Economic Forum in January this year, seeking to motivate them to urgently put a stop to runaway climate change.
New research published today reveals the devastating consequences of the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system. A common ingredient in international trade and investment agreements, ISDS creates a parallel justice system that rolls out the red carpet for corporations to sue states when they act in the public interest.
In an open letter published today, over 340 civil society organisations are demanding that the European Union immediately halt free trade agreement negotiations with the Mercosur bloc (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) on the grounds of deteriorating human rights and environmental conditions in Brazil.
As Europe’s prime ministers meet tomorrow in Sibiu, Romania, to shape the future of Europe, the EU’s next five-year priorities and long-term climate goals, Friends of the Earth Europe urges them to grasp the nettle of transformative change.
EU Member States in the European Council have today agreed to start negotiating a new EU-US trade deal.
The talks were de facto approved despite promises by French President Macron and EU Trade Commissioner Malmström that the EU would not negotiate a trade agreement with countries that have not signed the Paris agreement on climate change.
This Wednesday, 13th February, Members of the European Parliament will vote on a controversial investment deal between the EU and Singapore. This treaty is very similar to the investment chapters of CETA, the unpopular trade deal between the EU and Canada which outraged people all over Europe in 2015 and 2016.
The US Congress has given the green light to start new trade negotiations with the European Union, raising concerns around potential impacts on EU agriculture.
While the European Commission is aiming for an industry-only deal, the US government is strongly pushing for agriculture to be included in any agreement. This would likely open up the same controversies around food safety and agriculture tariffs that helped sink previous EU-US trade talks.
The EU needs to guarantee to its citizens that it will not start negotiating on Europe’s food safety standards with the US. This call comes from Friends of the Earth Europe as foreign affairs ministers meet today to discuss progress on EU-US trade talks.
Last week, governments met at the United Nations in Vienna to discuss potential changes to the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) system. This parallel justice system, benefitting multinationals and elite corporate lawyers, has been widely criticised around the world for its damaging impacts on the environment, on democracy and on public budgets.
This week, world leaders will meet at the United Nations in Geneva to negotiate a historic international treaty to ensure companies respect human rights and the environment in their global operations – the UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights. Representatives of the European Union will be attending the opening and closing session, but will not participating in discussions on the content of the treaty text. Why this abstention when we are talking about protecting people's rights against damaging corporations, about giving victims of corporate abuse access to justice?