Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Article

The CETA Investment Court and EU External Autonomy

Did Opinion 1/17 Broaden the EU’s Room for Maneuver in External Relations?

Keywords EU investment treaties, investment arbitration, EU external relations, EU treaty-making capacity, level of protection of public policy interests
Authors Wolfgang Weiss
Author's information

382498 Wolfgang Weiss
Wolfgang Weiss: professor of law, German University of Administrative Sciences, Speyer.
  • Abstract

      The present contribution analyzes Opinion 1/17 of the CJEU on CETA, which, in a surprisingly uncritical view of conceivable conflicts between the competences of the CETA Investment Tribunal on the one hand and those of the CJEU on the other hand, failed to raise any objections. First reactions welcomed this opinion as an extension of the EU’s room for maneuver in investment protection. The investment court system under CETA, however, is only compatible with EU law to a certain extent. This was made clear by the Court in the text of the opinion, and the restrictions identified are likely to confine the leeway for EU external contractual relations. Owing to their fundamental importance, these restrictions, inferred by the CJEU from the autonomy of the Union legal order form the core of this contribution. In what follows, the new emphasis in the CETA Opinion on the external autonomy of Union law will be analyzed first (Section 2). Subsequently, the considerations of the CJEU regarding the delimitation of its competences from those of the CETA Tribunal will be critically examined. The rather superficial analysis of the CJEU in the CETA Opinion stands in stark contrast to its approach in earlier decisions as it misjudges problems, only seemingly providing for a clear delimitation of competences (Section 3). This is followed by an exploration of the last part of the CJEU’s autonomy analysis, in which the CJEU tries to respond to the criticism of regulatory chill (Section 4). Here, by referring to the unimpeded operation of EU institutions in accordance with the EU constitutional framework, the CJEU identifies the new restrictions for investment protection mechanisms just mentioned. With this, the CJEU takes back the earlier comprehensive affirmation of the CETA Tribunal’s jurisdiction with regard to calling into question the level of protection of public interests determined by the EU legislative, which raises numerous questions about its concrete significance, consequence, and scope of application.

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