The EU and Global Investment Governance: from CETA to a Multilateral Investment Court

On Monday 1 July 2019, the Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO) hosted a seminar discussing CETA and Multilateral Investment Court. This seminar was the final in a year-long line of seminars, lectures, roundtables, and workshops carried out by University North in cooperation with IRMO’a Department for International Economic and Political Relations, as a part of the implementation of the Jean Monnet “Learning by Doing: EU Standards in the Balkans” project.

Aimed at raising the level of awareness in Croatia of the EU and the relevance of EU investment policies in the regional context, this seminar was focused on recent developments in investment governance. In particular, the discussion focused on the changing international investment legal practice – from current departure from Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) procedures and Bilateral Investment Treaties to a Multilateral Investment Court and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Prof Nicolas de Sadeleer from the Université Saint-Louis in Brussels and Ms Ivana Damjanovic from the Centre for European Studies at the Australian National University – University of Canberra, held a very informative seminar, which managed to capture the complexities of international investment law, European politics, and investment-state interests. They did so by putting the current development into perspective by assessing the strategic rivalry between the US and China and by identifying the challenges and opportunities for the EU in shaping a new rules-based multilateral investment system. They also brought the conversation contextualized the topic by analysing the relevance of these issues for Croatia and the greater South Eastern European region.

The recent proposal of a new system for the settlement of investment disputes – from the European Commission – caused some disputes over the efficiency of this proposed Investment Court System (ICS) in CETA and other EU’s investment protection agreements. Croatia, as a member of the EU, has interest in the subject as it is subject to a number of ISDS cases under such intra-EU and extra-EU agreements, including the highly controversial investor claims arising out of Croatia’s law on the conversion of loans denominated in Swiss francs. The EU’s pursuit of establishing a Multilateral Investment Court (MIC) as a global solution for ISDS legitimacy concerns in the framework of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is a matter concerning all member states, particularly in the changing regulatory dynamics.