Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that the Government must not grant the European Commission a mandate to being negotiating for the proposed multilateral investment court system, which he described as an affront to democracy and a threat to the Irish economy.
Speaking from Brussels following reports that the European Commission has now asked Member States for authorisation and directives to begin establishing a new international court, Carthy said:
“It is entirely premature that the European Commission should be asking national Governments to authorise a new court before a national debate has taken place.
“The establishment of this new court has the potential to violate the Irish Constitution, human rights and destroy the environment by granting corporations yet more rights by granting them the change to challenge public interest laws.
“In today’s economic climate, the biggest companies are wealthier than most countries. Corporate influence over policy making has grown, and the rate of unfettered expansion of free trade agreements by the European Commission is just one sign of this.
“Setting up a court whose sole jurisdiction will be to force governments to pay foreign corporations when public policy decreases the value of their investments is not only harmful for public services and the public interest, but also to the integrity of our judicial system, our Constitution and our democracy.
“Commissioner Malström has now officially sought permission from national governments to begin negotiations to set up a court which, until now has never been needed. Why now? Why will our own national courts suddenly become insufficient to hear cases regarding public policy? And why are multinational investors suddenly so privileged to be afforded their own special judicial system?
“The Fine Gael Government has until now refused to allow a debate on this issue, or on specific trade deals to which they have already endorsed, in the Dáil. That cannot continue. It is an affront to democracy and it poses a threat to the Irish economy to allow this process to go any further without a full debate”.