This morning the European Court of Justice passed its judgment on the compatibility of the investment chapter of the EU-Canada CETA agreement with EU law.
Unfortunately for campaigners fighting hard against the corporate stitch-up that is CETA, the court decided that the ISDS part of the deal was in fact compatible with EU law.
This is disappointing. But let’s get real here. This doesn’t change anything.
The case against ISDS (or its rebranded version ICS) has never been primarily a legal one. It is a moral one.
ISDS allows multinational companies access to an obscure, parallel justice system closed to the rest of us. Calling it a court system for the 1% would be generous. It is really a court system for the 0.01%.
ISDS has allowed corporate interests to trump those of the public time and time again. Countries have been threatened for passing pollution regulations, approving health and safety measures and for hitting the pause button on fracking. It has been used to defend land grabs, environmental destruction and lock in privatisation of key public services.
None of these arguments depend on the opinion of the ECJ. The moral case is as strong as ever – ISDS must go.
No matter what you call it – and the EU Commission is busy trying to expand ISDS into a global Multinational Investment Court (MIC) which could make matters even worse – the road to ending ISDS is political.
All the opinion means is that now the ball is firmly in the court of our politicians. Allowing multinationals to bully our democratically elected governments and ride roughshod over our rights is a political choice. And it is one we can change.
Thankfully, we have a wonderful opportunity to make the case for just such a change of mind.
This month sees the European elections. Across the EU we will have the opportunity to demand that our MEPs help put an end to this disastrous system. And they need to be told that efforts to rebrand ISDS as ICS, MIC or anything else change nothing. The whole system needs to be defeated.
We should encourage MEP candidates to sign up to the pledge to vote against ISDS in all its forms. The campaign is already gaining momentum. Yesterday a petition with over half a million signatures was handed to Franz Timmermans, who is the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) candidate for Commission president. He said that we could “count on” his support. But it isn’t just the social democrats. The campaign has already won support from across the political spectrum.
So let’s not be too sad about what history will recall as an obscure legal decision. The real fight begins now. We can defeat ISDS. So let’s get out there and get your local candidates to pledge their support to end this horrible system.