The timebomb hidden within the future EU-US trade treaty

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As the campaigning heats up for the European elections to be held later this month, critics of the European Commission’s handling of discussions over the future landmark European Union-United States free trade treaty have been making their voices heard. Of all the different concerns, the most controversial political issue now emerging is the intended inclusion in the deal of a provision whereby foreign corporations can sue governments before arbitration tribunals for damages in the event that their investments are undermined by future changes in laws, such as those concerning the environment or public health. Mediapart’s Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.

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Following the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan in March 2011, Germany announced it was to definitively phase out its civil nuclear power programme by 2022, when all its nuclear plants would be closed. In May 2012, Swedish energy group Vattenfall, which operates two nuclear power plants at Krümmel and Brunsbüttel in north Germany, lodged a damages claim against the German government with the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.