Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense Didier Reynders is pleased with the Opinion of the European Court of Justice on the compatibility of the Investment Court System (ICS) with the European Treaties. ICS is the reformed system of dispute settlement between states and investors. It is part of the EU-Canada Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). With its Opinion, the Court dismisses the remaining legal concerns.
In October 2016, the federal government committed, in consultation with the Belgian regions and communities, to submit a request for opinion to the Court of Justice of the EU on the signing of the CETA. CETA provisionally entered into force in September 2017, with the exception, amongst others, of the provisions on which Belgium’s request for an opinion was made.
The agreement was ratified by the Federal Parliament in July 2018. Since its provisional implementation, CETA has shown compelling results. For Belgium, exports to Canada grew strongly in the first year with an average increase of more than 30%, compared to a European average of 6% (pharma, chemistry, agribusiness and industrial goods).
The Opinion of the Court reasserts our ambition for reform. ICS is the first step towards the establishment of a Multilateral Investment Court that will, eventually, become the competent legal forum for resolving investor-state disputes. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has now recognized the need for reform. This Commission currently examines which type of reform ought to be implemented. In December 2018, Belgium was elected as a member of UNCITRAL (2019-2025).