Rare look at how big business defends "Investor State Dispute Settlements"


ISDSes are the most controversial element of secret trade deals like TPP and TTIP: they let giant international corporations sue countries to repeal environmental, safety and labor laws that interfere with their profitability.

The European Commission has proposed some mild moderation of ISDSes in future trade agreements, prompting near-panic from the Heritage Foundation, which lobbies on behalf of the giant corporations who benefit from being able to decide which laws democratically elected legislatures are allowed to pass.

Heritage has launched into a full-court lobbying press in favor of ISDS, and in so doing, has provided a rare glimpse of how big business's top spin doctors defend the indefensible:


The rest of the post provides rare insights into the thinking of the pro-ISDS, pro-big business camp in the US. Bizarrely, it describes corporate sovereignty tribunals as:

designed to safeguard fair, unbiased, and transparent legal processes by providing independent and impartial arbitration.

That's an odd description of processes that take place in secret, with no case law to guide decisions, no limits to damages, no right to appeal, and where the tribunal members are corporate lawyers who can also act for the same companies that appear before them in other cases, because there are no rules governing conflicts of interest. But more interesting than this topsy-turvy view of reality is the following revealing comment:

because any case inside the EU can ultimately reach the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and the ECJ is mandated to make decisions that promote deeper European integration, it is not clear how the U.S. can rely on the ECJ to rule fairly when the EU seeks to promote integration in ways that discriminate against the U.S.

Essentially, then, The Heritage Foundation objects to Europe's highest court doing its job of strengthening the European Union, and wants supranational corporate sovereignty tribunals as an option to overrule its judgements -- confirming critics' worst fears about ISDS undermining democracy.

EU Proposes To Reform Corporate Sovereignty Slightly; US Think Tank Goes Into Panic Mode [Glyn Moody/Techdirt]