Vereinbarkeit bilateraler Investitionsabkommen mit dem EU-Recht

Im Januar 2013 trat die Verordnung Nr. 1219/2012 zur Einführung einer Übergangsregelung für bilaterale Investitionsabkommen zwischen Mitgliedstaaten und Drittländern in Kraft. Inzwischen hat die Kommission mit Kanada, Singapur und Indien Abkommen mit Investitionsschutzbestimmungen ausgehandelt. In naher Zukunft wird die Kommission ein umfassendes Investitionsabkommen mit China sowie Investitionsschutzabkommen mit Japan, den Vereinigten Staaten und den Partnern im Rahmen der Östlichen Partnerschaft sowie im südlichen Mittelmeerraum und im ASEAN aushandeln.

Außerdem wird im Rat und im Parlament derzeit eine Verordnung erörtert, mit der die finanzielle Zuständigkeit bei Investor-Staat-Streitigkeiten vor Schiedsgerichten geregelt werden soll.

Damit wird drei Jahre nach Inkrafttreten des Vertrags von Lissabon und der Übertragung der Zuständigkeit für ausländische Direktinvestitionen auf die EU-Ebene allmählich ein Rechtsrahmen für die Handhabung dieser neuen ausschließlichen Zuständigkeit geschaffen.

Was das Ineinandergreifen von Unionsrecht und internationalem Investitionsrecht betrifft, ist jedoch noch eine Reihe von Fragen zu klären.

1. Bisher wurden 190 bilaterale Investitionsabkommen zwischen Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union abgeschlossen. Diese Abkommen wirken diskriminierend, da die Investitionsschutznormen von Vertrag zu Vertrag unterschiedlich sind, das heißt, sie stellen einen Verstoß gegen Artikel 18 der Vertrags über die Europäische Union dar. Außerdem stehen diese Abkommen in Widerspruch zum Rechtsprechungsmonopol des Europäischen Gerichtshofs in EU-Rechtssachen, da sie – durch unterschiedliche Schiedsverfahren – zu einer parallelen Rechtsprechung führen. Die Kommission vertritt den Standpunkt, dass diese Abkommen in der Tat nicht mit dem EU-Recht vereinbar sind und demnach beendet werden sollten. Was hat die Kommission unternommen, um die Mitgliedstaaten zur Beendigung dieser Abkommen zu zwingen?

2. Der Europäische Gerichtshof hat 2009 in drei Rechtssachen (C-118/07, C-249/06 und C-205/06) entschieden, dass Bestimmungen über den freien Kapitaltransfer einen Verstoß gegen das EU-Recht darstellen, da es nach diesen Bestimmungen nicht zulässig ist, etwaige Maßnahmen der EU zur Beschränkung des Kapitalverkehrs zur Anwendung zu bringen. Was hat die Kommission unternommen, um diesen Widerspruch aufzulösen, der sowohl in bestehenden und neuen bilateralen Investitionsabkommen der Mitgliedstaaten als auch in den neuen EU-Investitionsabkommen besteht?

3. Die Regelung von Investor-Staat-Streitigkeiten führt dazu, dass die EU finanzielle Verantwortung gegenüber Investoren aus Drittländern trägt. Diese finanzielle Verantwortung kann nicht angemessen wahrgenommen werden, wenn die in Investitionsabkommen vorgesehenen Schutznormen wesentlich über die in der Union und der Mehrheit der Mitgliedstaaten anerkannten Haftungsgrenzen hinausgehen. Wie wird die Kommission dafür sorgen, dass ausländischen Investoren im Rahmen künftiger Abkommen der Union ein ebenso hohes, jedoch kein höheres Maß an Schutz gewährt wird, wie es EU-Investoren nach dem EU-Recht und den allgemeinen Rechtsgrundsätzen, die den Rechtsordnungen der Mitgliedstaaten gemeinsam sind, geboten wird?

Antwort

Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, I would first like to thank the Committee on International Trade (INTA) and its rapporteur, Mr Zalewski, for this excellent report on the Commission’s Regulation on financial responsibility for investor-state dispute settlements. This is the third of three pillars of the EU’s investment policy. In this respect, I acknowledge Parliament’s own request in April 2011 for the Commission to legislate in the area of financial responsibility. Turning to the INTA report, the Commission is, in general terms, ready to accept the bulk of Parliament’s amendments, either as drafted or subject to some further work on drafting. We are mainly concerned with those amendments which make it more difficult for the Commission to act to defend the Union’s interests, in particular some elements of Amendments 19, 27, 28 and 30. To give just one example, the Commission must be able to act simply when there is a risk to the interpretation of future agreements. Adding ‘serious’ makes it more difficult for the Commission to act to protect the Union’s interests. I raise this point because this Regulation gives Member States power to defend themselves – and also, effectively, the EU – on the international stage. It means that a Member State on its own can offer interpretations of an EU agreement. However, these are no longer individual Member State agreements which affect only one Member State but agreements concluded at EU level affecting the EU, all the other Member States and all EU investors. Moreover, interpretation in one case will clearly have an effect on other cases which may involve EU institutions, other Member States and EU investors abroad. Developments in the Council might put this in doubt. We hope that Parliament will support the Commission in defending the unity of external representation in order to protect EU interests. As I said, this is a very important proposal which will put in place a framework for years to come. While seemingly complex, it involves some key institutional questions which I trust Parliament will, like the Commission, seek to protect. Let me now turn to the oral question. The Commission agrees that bilateral and investment treaties (BITS) between EU Member States do not comply with EU law. They have been challenged before national courts. These proceedings are still pending and there also seems to be widespread agreement among Member States that at least a lack of legal certainty persists. All the Member States except one have such intra-EU BITS in force. Commission officials have therefore initiated informal discussions with them with a view to reaching agreement on the joint termination of all these agreements within an agreed time frame. Several Member States have already agreed bilaterally to terminate their agreements, and the Commission has encouraged them to proceed with doing so. However, in those cases where Member States are not willing to terminate agreements, the Commission is ready to play its role as a guardian of the Treaties so as to ensure compliance with EU law. The European Court of Justice ruled in 2009 that provisions in the bilateral investment agreements of Austria, Sweden and Finland relating to the free transfer of capital were in breach of the EU Treaties and did not allow for the application of EU measures on the restriction of capital movements. The Member States concerned have been compelled to bring their agreements into compliance with their Treaty obligations or to denounce them. The 2012 regulation establishing transitional arrangements for bilateral and investment agreements between Member States and third countries specifies that, where an existing investment agreement conflicts with substantive Union law, the Member State concerned has to request authorisation from the Commission to open renegotiation of such an agreement with a view to bringing it into compliance with EU law. When formally authorising the renegotiation of an investment agreement, the Commission instructs the Member State concerned to amend it to ensure compatibility with substantive Union law, in particular through provisions ensuring that nothing in the agreement prevents the Member State concerned from fulfilling its obligations under EU law. When the negotiations are over, the Member State has to notify the Commission of the final outcome of its negotiations and, before authorising its signature, the Commission carries out a final verification of whether the conditions established in Regulation (EU) No 1219/2012 have been met. Under this Regulation, Member States can also be allowed to negotiate and conclude under certain conditions new bilateral investment agreements with third countries. Only agreements which are compatible with EU law can be authorised. This process of authorising Member States to negotiate or sign new agreements or to renegotiate existing ones has only just started, with 29 requests so far for authorisation to sign or allow the entry into force of protocols amending existing BITS and 36 requests to open negotiations to amend existing BITS. The Commission is now issuing its first authorisations and we are keeping Parliament duly informed. The Commission also ensures that EU investment agreements being negotiated at EU level are also fully in line with EU law. A specific reference to this objective is included in the recommendations for negotiating directives which the Commission has addressed to Council and which have been shared with Parliament. Let me, finally, reassure you that the level of investment protection afforded by future investment agreements to foreign investors will be in line with general principles common to EU and Member State law. There is a broad consensus among EU institutions and all the relevant stakeholders that one of the main objectives of EU investment policy is to provide enhanced legal certainty and a high level of protection for investors in line with the best practices of EU Member States. These practices reflect not only fundamental principles of international law but also general principles that are common to the EU and its Member States’ legal systems, such as the principles of non-discrimination, the rule of law, access to justice, due process and the obligation to fully compensate in the event of expropriation. These are precisely the main elements and standards that we are covering in the EU investment protection agreements. Parliament suggested in its 2011 resolution on the future European international investment policy that the breadth of interpretation left to arbitral tribunals should be reduced in order to increase legal certainty and better protect the public intervention domain. The Commission has endorsed this view and is endeavouring to better clarify the content of our investment protection standards without reducing the level of protection, for example by including useful guidance on the practice of arbitral tribunals. As this is a joint debate on some rather detailed issues, I have spoken at length and did so to clarify the rationale for the Commission’s proposal. I look forward to Parliament’s support.