On the initiative of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders a high-level seminar on opinion 1/17 of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) took place today at the Egmont Palace in Brussels. The President of the Court, Koen Lenaerts, opened the event, which was attended by legal experts and representatives of civil society.
In a long awaited opinion the Court of Justice confirmed, on 30 April 2019, that the ISDS-mechanism – investor-state dispute settlement – as reformed by CETA, is compatible with EU law. Belgium asked the CJEU for its view to clarify CETA’s legal framework that led to numerous debates on both political level and with civil society.
These concerns were justified and led to a series of reforms going beyond the EU’s bilateral investment agreements. The seminar tackled the agenda for investment protection reform at international level and resulted in an open discussion with all parties involved.
During his intervention, Minister Reynders welcomed the opinion of the Court, as the guarantees provided by CETA were taken into account in order to confirm its compatibility with European law. He also reiterated his support for the activities of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), of which Belgium has been a member since July 2019 until 2025. It is important to pursue the reforms within UNCITRAL to ensure inclusive and transparent work. After all, the committee involves arbitration experts and representatives of civil society in its debates.
Our country is calling for a comprehensive reform and resolutely supports the creation of a multilateral investment court.
When closing the event, Minister Reynders stressed the Belgian priorities in the current debate, including transparency, the importance of an alternative dispute settlement mechanism, such as mediation, and the access of SME’s to investment protection.
The event was organized by the Directorate General European Affairs of the FPS Foreign Affairs and is part of a series of seminars on European foreign trade.