Didier Reynders calls for transparency and inclusiveness in Investment Protection Reform

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders organized a high-level event on the reform of investment protection today at the Egmont Palace. Minister Reynders and European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom opened the event. In his intervention, minister Reynders highlighted that “the CETA discussions showed that the outline of the reform debate is not just technical, but also political. This requires maximum transparency and inclusiveness for the ongoing negotiations.”

During the discussions of the CETA trade agreement between the European Union and Canada, several public concerns emerged with regards to the existing system of investment protection (ISDS). This event falls within the ongoing reform negotiations, which aim to address those concerns. For that reason, all relevant stakeholders were brought to the table at this event: international institutions, civil society, academics, business and arbitration experts.

Minister Reynders reiterated the strong commitment of our country in the ongoing debate. Belgium calls for a thorough reform, opting for the establishment of a multilateral investment court. Minister Reynders also expressed his support for the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). This UN body ensures a maximum inclusiveness by engaging both arbitration experts and civil society representatives in the debate.

Minister Reynders also repeated several Belgian priorities in the ungoing discussions, such as the importance of alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation, and the protection of small and middle-sized enterprises. Belgium is also vigilant that the concerns of developing countries are also taken on board. This is exactly why a separate round table was organized with several African countries to draw attention to their vision on investment protection reform. Foreign direct investments are key to economic development, but require legal certainty.

To further spell out Belgium’s commitment, our country is currently a candidate for a seat in the UNCITRAL Commission for the 2019-2025 term.

Please find the speech of the Minister here