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Canada and the EU have held the first of a series of meetings to discuss the creation of an international court to resolve disputes over cross-border investments.
The aim is to establish a single permanent body to decide on investment disputes. The intention is for this body to be open for all interested countries to join. It would adjudicate disputes under both future and existing investment treaties. For EU-level agreements, it would replace the bilateral Investment Court Systems included in EU agreements with free trade agreement partners.
If successful, the initiative would involve a move away from the current system of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The ISDS is included in around 3,200 investment treaties, of which EU member states have 1,400.
Both the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement signed with Canada and the trade agreement concluded between the EU and Vietnam both contain reference to the establishment of a multilateral investment court. The Commission is currently undertaking an impact assessment on the option of establishing a multilateral investment court, and will launch a 12-week online public consultation process before the end of the year.
The discussions are intended to be the first a series of meetings to take place in the coming year. The EU's Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, and Canada's International Trade Minister, Chrystia Freeland, also intend to discuss the initiative with other trade ministers in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 20, 2017.
Freeland commented: "Canada and the EU committed under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement to develop a new standard for resolving investment disputes related to our international agreements. Canada and the EU see this meeting as an essential step in bringing the benefits of progressive trade to people around the world."
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