To the European Commission and the EU Trade Ministers
Corporations increasingly use investment tribunals to attack rules that protect people and the environment. The proposals to strengthen this parallel legal system through a global court are therefore deeply worrying.
Please withdraw the plans to establish a “multilateral investment court”, do not agree to new trade and investment agreements with corporate courts, and commit to abolish them in existing agreements.
Why is this important?
A new European Commission proposal would entrench a massive parallel legal system that foreign investors can use to subvert democratic decision making.
A wave of mobilisations against TTIP and CETA  has swept across Europe to stop the spread of this parallel legal systems that allows foreign investors to sue states if democratic decisions affect their profits. Recently, almost 150,000 Europeans took part in a public consultation to reject these unjustified privileges. But instead of abolishing this system, there is now a push to establish it at a global level… and under a different name .
This parallel legal system is different to traditional courts and our democratic judicial systems. It is only accessible to foreign investors and often used to challenge laws big businesses think is affecting their expected profits.
The fear of being sued leads governments to become much more cautious when its decisions could restrict powerful corporations. The corporate courts give them a tool to bully governments into weakening protections or abandon plans for new laws. All of this will be costly – and European citizens and our environment will be paying the bill.
Countries like South Africa, Indonesia and India have shown that it’s possible to get out of dangerous investment treaties, leaving the system behind altogether. If the proposals by the European Commission for a global court go through, they’re likely to sideline more fundamental changes proposed by countries in the Global South.
This new court would increase the power of corporations compared to civil society at a time when the opposite is needed. Governments from the Global South are trying to establish binding and enforceable rules for corporations when it comes to human rights. Instead of strengthening investor privileges, the European Union should support this attempt to hold corporations accountable for human rights violations.
 TTIP stands for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a treaty to be signed with the United States. CETA stands for Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, a treaty to be signed with Canada.
 It is called the Multilateral Investment Court and would create a global court exclusively available to foreign investors to sue governments. According to the EU’s proposal investors could go the new court using existing investment treaties which have proven to be dangerous to public policies aimed at protecting people and the environment.
This action is run in partnership with Friends of the Earth Europe, the Seattle to Brussels Network and Campact.
Please can you chip in?
Challenging privileges for foreign investors and corporations is a long-term battle - and an expensive one.
Corporations are throwing everything they have at getting a parallel tribunal that makes them the most money possible. It’ll be hard work to make sure the voices of ordinary people are heard amid the clamour of corporate lobbyists, and we are going to need some experienced campaigners. That means a sustained financial effort.
Can you help us build a fighting fund by chipping in a few euros? Only by acting together can we hope to stop huge corporations.
"Italians have already suffered so much because of earthquakes. We can’t endure another disaster. But now a corporation could force us to have our sea drilled and risk a catastrophe, or pay millions. No corporation should have such power. " Rosanna Canfora, an Italian citizen, explains her fears.
A new European Commission proposal to set up a parallel legal system for corporations to sue our governments could mean such cases, until now isolated, become our everyday reality. If our ministers approve it, all Europeans would be faced with many more corporate abuses like this one.
Last spring, a movement of more than 326,000 people asked the European Commission to stop the proposal to give corporations VIP tribunals designed exclusively for them to defend their profiteering. Now it’s your minister’s turn to have his/her say. Governments are elected directly by you, so they’ll take you seriously. And since ministries are in the habit of communicating via paper letters, they’ll give even more weight to your words if they receive them in the post. Here is a toolkit for you to be able to prepare a paper letter in less than 5 minutes!
Are you in?
If you prefer to write your own letter, but would like some guidance, here are some bullet points and ideas:
- ISDS allows foreign companies to sue governments for compensation when laws and regulations affect their expected profits.
- This is a profoundly unjust and undemocratic system which privileges the interests of multinational corporations over everyone else's.
- The Commission's proposal for a Multilateral Investment Court does not fix these issues:
-- It continues to allow multinational corporations and foreign investors to bypass our courts
-- It does not impose any obligations on them to respect our laws
-- It only allows foreign companies to sue - nobody else
- We don't need the MIC, we need to get rid of the system that privileges multinational corporations over everyone else. That means we need:
-- No inclusion of investment protection in new trade agreements
-- Termination of existing agreements that allow multinational corporations to operate with impunity and sue if our governments attempt to stop them
- Various corporations have used investment treaties to attack public interest policies.
- There is now a growing public interest around this proposal: it’s the perfect time for more substantial discussion on the reform of investment treaty arbitration.
- Your government should instead support a binding treaty at the UN-level to hold corporations internationally accountable for their conduct.
One more thing...
Please, let us know whether you are planning to send a letter to your minister, or if you’ve already done it, by clicking on this button. This information is very useful for us to figure out the impact of our collective action: the more information we have, the better we can design our campaigns and ensure we win them!
It would be also very helpful if you could send a picture of your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.Your commitment is what makes us win. Thank you for taking action!
Thank you for standing for democracy with us. It is only together that we can truly be a force to be reckoned with.