The European Commission wants your views on ISDS

Access wishes to thank all the members who responded to the European Commission’s consultation on Investor to State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. As announced, Access also submitted a response to the consultation, which you can find here.


Grégoire Delette contributed to this post

Earlier this week, European Digital Rights (EDRi), with the help of Access, Bits of Freedom, and Vrijschrift, published a citizens answering guide to the public consultation on the Investor-State Dispute Settlement launched by the European Commission in March and open for comment until July 6.

Empowering companies


ISDS is a controversial dispute resolution mechanism, that the European Union and the United States are seeking to integrate into a far reaching trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, currently being negotiated. This mechanism empowers companies to sue states in cases where their investments or expected profits are lower than expected due to a state action, including by a change in legislation.

The high economic penalties of ISDS complaints, creates a perverse incentive for policymakers to avoid extending or updating laws to bring them into the digital era. Ongoing reform efforts such as the update of the Data Protection legislative framework in Europe, or future legislation on copyright or patent laws could be at risk.

To help guide its negotiators, the Commission has released a consultation on ISDS. Without a doubt, companies (and their more than 30,000 lobbyists in Brussels) will be submitting comments. While it is already difficult to restrain this level of lobbying, through ISDS, companies would gain the ability to challenge any type of legislation in front of third party courts. Allowing companies to circumvent domestic legal systems to challenge legislation undermining their profit could extend their influence in policy outcomes.

How to answer the consultation?


As ISDS could severely influence future legislation on digital rights and other important topics, this open online consultation is a unique opportunity to give your thoughts on this dispute resolution mechanism to the European Commission. As the topic of the consultation and the questions asked by the Commission are highly technical, European Digital Rights, Access, Bits of Freedom, and Vrijschrift have created this answering guide to help you ensure digital rights are protected under this new trade agreement. You can easily draft and submit your answers to the Commission using this online tool.

The consultation includes 12 technical questions and an open question that can be answered very briefly. While the consultation fails to address crucial questions including whether ISDS is even needed in TTIP, citizens and representatives of civil society should seize this opportunity to express their concerns.

Submission to this consultation will be accepted until July 6. Access will be responding and we encourage users to share their views on this mechanism.

Act now and make your voice heard on ISDS!