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10/12/2016

German judges oppose proposed TTIP courts

Trade & Society

German judges oppose proposed TTIP courts

The position of the judges is likely to come as a huge blow to Cecilia Malmström's plans.

[EU2016 NL/Flickr]

The German Association of Judges has come out against TTIP’s proposed public investment courts. As a result, it has put itself on a collision course with the European Commission. EurActiv Germany reports.

“There is neither a legal basis nor an actual need for such a court,” criticised judges in a letter, positioning themselves against the Commission in the process. Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, is a firm advocate of the Investment Court system in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Foreign investors would hold a trump card against states under the proposed plan.

The judges believe that “creating special courts for certain groups of litigants” is a mistake. A public court system would limit the legislative powers of the member states and the EU to an unacceptable extent. There is no legal basis for the move. Moreover, the process for appointing judges does not meet international standards that are necessary for legal independence.

>>Read: TTIP: The downfall of EU agriculture?

The executive wants to provide an alternative to the controversial Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The proposed Investment Court System would involve public courts with more authority. Malmström has assured the new system’s critics that judges would still be appointed based on their internationally-recognised qualifications.

The judges’ damning indictment of the European Commission’s plan is potentially a huge blow to the still-ongoing negotiations. The system is not just intended for TTIP and can already be found in the free trade agreement signed with Vietnam.

>>Read: Malmström: TTIP could follow Vietnam model

Regarding the deal struck with Canada last year, CETA, the Commission wants to amend the requirements for investment protection. The current system of private arbitration will be replaced by the new public model. The executive hopes to proceed with the support of MEPs.

The Commission said its position on the investment court was well-known when contacted by EurActiv.