On September 13, 2017, the European Commission (the “Commission”) announced a proposal to set up a new EU-wide framework for screening foreign direct investment (“FDI”) into the European Union.  The proposal, set out in a draft Regulation, provides for: (i)  new foreign investment review powers for the Commission; (ii) a harmonized approach in screening FDI; (iii) specific criteria to be considered when reviewing investments; and, (iv) a cooperation mechanism between Member States and the Commission. 
Continue Reading EU Plans Tighter Vetting of Foreign Investments

On September 6, 2017, Belgium requested an opinion from the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) on whether the investment protection rules set out in Chapter Eight of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”) conform to EU Treaties. This request stems from the last-minute deal between Belgium and its regional governments on October 27, 2016, which essentially sought to appease Wallonia’s concerns regarding investor protection and the new Investment Court System (“ICS”) and unblocking domestic opposition to the signing of CETA.
Continue Reading Belgium Requests Opinion on Legality of Investment Court System in CETA


On August 2, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia. Days earlier, the proposed legislation sparked a vigorous reaction in the European Union.

On July 26, 2017, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned of “unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests”. In the same vein, the French government opined that the extra-territorial reach of the text appears to breach international law. The German and Austrian governments also issued a joint statement disapproving of the proposal’s encroachment into European energy supply matters.
Continue Reading EU Reacts to Impact of Russia Sanctions Bill on European Energy Investments

On July 6, 2017, the EU and Japan announced an “Agreement in Principle” on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (“EPA”).  Negotiations on “the world’s largest, free, industrialised economic zone” began in 2013, and have now culminated in a political agreement which sets out the commitments of both Parties on numerous topics. While parts of the draft text have been published, many issues remain under negotiation. Nonetheless, the EPA provides useful guidance on what European and Japanese businesses can plausibly expect from this deal.  A summary of key issues is set out below.
Continue Reading Opening Up European and Japanese Markets: What the EU-Japan Trade Deal Means for Businesses


Fifteen years ago, China joined the World Trade Organization (“WTO”). To alleviate concerns of cheap Chinese goods flooding international markets at that time, China agreed to allow other WTO members to continue conducting their anti-dumping calculations in a special way, thereby recognizing the concerns of certain members that prices of Chinese goods could be distorted due to state interference. This methodology considered China as a “non-market economy” (“NME”). In a nutshell, this means other countries can disregard Chinese prices or costs, and can use “alternative methods” (external benchmarks, such as hypothetical costs of a third country) to determine the margin of dumping in an investigation. In doing so, authorities will typically end up levying higher anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods.Continue Reading Anti-Dumping, Non-Market Economy and Chinese Goods – Where Do We Stand in the EU?

On May 22, 2017, the Council officially authorized the opening of Article 50 negotiations with the UK. It appointed the Commission as the EU’s negotiator and adopted a first set of Negotiating Directives outlining the EU’s priorities for the first phase of negotiations. These directives are in line with, and complement, the (more political) Article 50 Guidelines of the European Council, adopted by the EU 27 Heads of State and Government on April 29, 2017. This last step in a chain of authorization procedures means that the European Commission, led by Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, now has all the clearances required empowering it to start Brexit talks forthwith.
Continue Reading Adoption of European Commission Mandate – Brexit Negotiations Can Now Start

On May 16, 2017, the EU Court of Justice released its long-awaited opinion on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (“FTA” ) (“the Agreement”) (full text here). Back in July 2015, after the EU and Singapore completed trade negotiations, the European Commission sought clarity on its authority to conclude complex deals.

The following questions submitted by the Commission have now been answered:Continue Reading ECJ Issues Opinion on Singapore FTA: Answers to Guide Brexit Trade Negotiators

It took eight years to get to this point, but the dramatic rollercoaster of Canada-EU free trade negotiations will soon start to bear fruit. On May 11, 2017, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-30, the CETA Implementation Act. Royal Assent was received on May 16. Earlier, on February 15, 2017, the European Parliament approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”). This means that the path will very soon be clear for most of the agreement to be applied on a provisional basis, pending institution of relevant Canadian regulations.
Continue Reading Opening Doors to European and Canadian Companies: Imminent Provisional Application of CETA

In recent times, the EU and its trade partners have cranked up momentum on the establishment of a multilateral investment court, with the aim of replacing ad hoc arbitration provisions in investor-state dispute settlement (“ISDS”) for the protection of investors. In our previous post, we noted that this has caused some debate in the Canada-EU trade deal, where this provision led to objections by numerous member states, as well as last minute blocking of Belgium’s approval to the trade accord.
Continue Reading Where Else for Investors to Sue? Multinational Companies Weigh in on a New Investment Court