The fact that corporations are regularly placed on the same level as entire nations, and can sue them for alleged loss of future profits, probably came as something of a shock to most people, as it did to me when I first encountered the idea. It sounded like the deranged fantasy of some corporate lobbyist, but surely not something that any country would actually accept. And yet, as we know, not only do many – small, and relatively weak – countries consent to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) as the price of obtainng much-needed inward investment, but the European Commission seems hell-bent on exposing European to the same kind of corporate attack. […]
This is precisely the kind of thing that many fear will happen if ISDS is included in TTIP: companies will seek to overturn policies that are brought in for environmental reasons, arguing that corporate profits outweigh the rights of the public. […]
Trade lawyers around the world have clearly realised that ISDS is one of the most efficient techniques for their clients to extract very large sums of money from governments, and they are applying their not-inconsiderable – if largely amoral – ingenuity to come up with new ways of using the mechanism. That’s another important reason why the « innovative elements » the European Commission plans to introduce to « improve » the system won’t work – they are trying to fix yesterday’s problems – and why ISDS must be removed completely from TTIP.