Investment Protection in EU Investment Agreement

ETUCE is a strong advocator of free quality public education for all and maintains that education is a human right and a public good, which is the responsibility of governments. ETUCE monitors international trade and investment agreements that the EU is pursuing and which may expose the education sector to privatisation and commercialisation pressures. ETUCE urges decision makers to entirely exclude education from trade agreements. Formally these trade agreements currently being negotiated are about trade, that is lowing tariff rates and quotas, however the main issues concern regulatory convergence and the elimination of "non-tariff" barrier to trade. Therefore, such trade agreements pose potentially serious risks for education policy, for public schools and other educational institutions, as well as for teachers, students and communities in the EU.

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The European Commission is currently negotiating a number of investment and free trade agreements that aim to include the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. ETUCE opposes the ISDS mechanism as it poses significant risks to the education sector and democratic decision-making in general. Past practice of ISDS demonstrates that the right to regulate is often undermined as investors can challenge regulations, which they feel violate their rights to access a market or affect their future profits. Moreover, ISDS as per definition gives a special right to foreign investors, which are not available to citizens and domestic investors.


ETUCE Statement on Investment Protection in EU Investment Agreements adopted by the ETUCE Committee on 13 October 2014

The ETUCE Statement conveys the message that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is a flawed mechanism, which is contradictory to and limiting on the right to regulate. It raises the specific concerns in respect to the education sector. Private companies could in the future challenge the quality and accreditation standards through ISDS if they felt these standards were "disguised barriers to trade" or "more burdensome than necessary". ". As emphasised in the Statement: "These quality and accreditation standards are crucial to ensure the quality of education and therefore ISDS poses very significant risks to the education sector and democratic decision-making in general".

More information
ETUCE report on EU regulation setting out rules of managing ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement)