Values and objectives of the EU in light of Opinion 1/17: ‘Trade for all’, above all

Ivana Damjanovic, Nicolas de Sadeleer

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In Opinion 1/17 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that the new Investment Court System (ICS) in the Canada–EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is compatible with the EU constitutional framework. This article examines the CJEU’s analysis of the ICS in its Opinion through the prism of EU values and objectives. Given the judicial nature of the ICS, the article unfolds around the concept of the rule of law. The scope and the content of this core EU value are considered under both EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In particular, the ICS is analysed in light of the two core rule-of-law requirements: equal treatment and the independence of courts, enshrined in Articles 20 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR). Importantly, in Opinion 1/17 the CJEU for the first time applied Article 47 CFR to a court outside the EU judicial system. While the CJEU ruled that the ICS complies with the CFR rule of-law criteria, this article argues that it nevertheless falls short of the rule-of-law standards required for judicial bodies under EU law. The article demonstrates that the CJEU prioritises free and fair trade as the CETA’s core objective, rather than the rule of law, and endorses the ICS as the conditio sine qua non of guaranteeing such trade. The Court’s findings have wider consequences for the rule of law in international law as the EU continues to pursue the establishment of a Multilateral Investment Court (MIC).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalEurope and the World: A law review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020


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