Brussels, 7 July 2010 - The European Commission today took the first step towards a comprehensive European international investment policy with two initiatives. A policy paper lays out how the new EU competence on foreign direct investment can be used to boost competitiveness and trade resulting in growth and jobs. At the same time a draft regulation sets up transitional arrangements offering guarantees on existing or pending bilateral investment treaties concluded between EU and Non-EU countries.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, investment policy will be developed and managed at the European level giving the EU a strengthened negotiating hand to deliver better investment protection for all European businesses.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht stated "European investors need open, sound and predictable business environments to thrive and these proposals aim to strengthen the EU's ability to ensure level playing fields for them. In the long run, a comprehensive investment policy will keep Europe as the world's number one player in the field of foreign direct investment, ensure the best deal for all European businesses, invigorate growth and create jobs at this crucial time."
The investment package comprises two documents: First, the policy paper 'Towards a comprehensive European international investment policy', which explores how best investment policy can contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth - the goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Second, a proposal for a Regulation that would establish transitional arrangements regarding those bilateral investment agreements which EU countries concluded with other parts of the world previous to the Lisbon Treaty. Here, the Commission has provided legal security for European and foreign investors, without hampering the EU's ability to negotiate new investment treaties at EU level.
Foreign direct investment is a main contributor to economic growth. It creates jobs, optimises resource allocation, allows the transfer of technology, and boosts trade. The EU is the world's biggest player in the field of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). By 2008 outward stocks of FDI amounted to 3.3 trillion Euros while EU inward stocks accounted for 2.4 trillion Euros.
Those investments are secured via Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). They establish the terms and conditions for investment by nationals and companies of one country in another and set up a legally binding level of protection in order to encourage investment flows between two countries. Amongst other things BITs grant investors fair, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment, protection from unlawful expropriation and direct recourse to international arbitration. EU states are the main users of BITs globally, with a total number of about 1200 bilateral treaties already concluded.