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16 October 2014
BREAKING: Juncker to take ISDS out of TTIP
Incoming Commission president Jean Claude Juncker is said to have decided to remove the controversial investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) from TTIP, citing that it is “too late” to win on the issue, and to send a clear signal to EU citizens that he has “heard them" a new news report says.
According to the Dutch journalist Caroline de Gruyter, writing for NRC Handelsblad, Trade Commissioner-elect Cecilia Malmström had threatened to resign over Juncker’s plans to exclude ISDS, but to date, this has not happened. The news sheds further light on the tug-of-war taking place within the Commission regarding investor rights in international trade agreements, as was demonstrated in Malmström's parliamentary hearing in September.
The news also comes just 24 hours after outgoing Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told Reuters that that "there will be no TTIP without an ISDS" at a meeting of EU trade ministers and US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, in Rome.
Lightning rod issue
De Gruyter is highly regarded as a journalist specialising in EU affairs, with sources close to Juncker. She claims that Juncker now sees ISDS as a "lightning rod" issue for TTIP opponents. Politically, Juncker believes it cannot be won as an issue, as those in favour are “not fighting back.” It is claimed that Juncker hopes the decision will improve the popular image of Brussels, which has taken a nose dive in recent years on the back of growing Eurosceptic sentiment.
In a Green Group hearing after the European Elections in July, Juncker already openly aired his discontent at ISDS proposals, saying:
“I don’t understand why great democracies would not have faith in the judiciary. We have courts which are able to deal with cases that are brought to them, and so I’m not really in favour of what one could call “private courts” or arbitration bodies which may sometimes reach good decisions but don’t always have to justify their decisions.”
The news is likely to be seen as a huge victory for civil society groups and NGOs, who have actively campaigned for the removal of the mechanism since last year. Growing public anger over TTIP resulted in tens of thousands taking to the streets last Saturday, in more than 400 protests across Europe.
More information as it comes in.