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Bilateral investment treaties: limiting the Commission's authority

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Thursday, 12 May 2011

Bilateral investment treaties: limiting the Commission's authority

Parliament voted to circumscribe the Commission's rights regarding Member States' bilateral investment treaties (BITs). While urging the replacement of these BITs with EU-wide agreements, Members chose to water down the Commission's proposal that would have allowed it to review national BITs and, if warranted, withdraw its authorization from them. The Commission has proposed a regulation that would require all Member States to notify the Commission of all of their BITs, in exchange for which they would be authorised to maintain these agreements in force. After reviewing these treaties, the Commission could then withdraw this authorization, if the BIT in question conflicts with EU law, overlaps with an EU investment agreement with the same country, or conflicts with EU investment policy more generally. The report adopted in the Parliament today (345-246-14) is very close to the version that emerged from the International Trade Committee a few weeks ago. That text, in turn, was based on compromise amendments from the EPP, ECR and ALDE groups, and opposed by the Socialists & Democrats, Greens/EFA, and GUE/NGL groups. Parliament's amendments generally aim to weaken the power of the Commission in both its power to review BITs and in the reasons it can cite to withdraw authorization from them.

Source: European Parliament