The Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Towards a comprehensive European Investment Policy  (Brussels 7.7.2010 COM (2010)343 final) outlines the first steps of the European Union to establish an investment policy, following the Lisbon Treaty through which investment too became a common Union policy within the framework of the EU’s common commercial policy.  So foreign direct investment is today managed by the EU on behalf of the Member States, whereby the EU negotiates with third countries rules on both investment protection and market access for investment.

The objectives of the EU’s investment policy secures a level playing field so that EU investors abroad are not discriminated or mistreated, while providing the predictability and transparency to businesses.  Furthermore, the EU’s investment policy is also aimed to support sustainable development, respect for human rights, labour and environmental standards in third countries.  Finally the investment policy strives to attract international investment into the EU, while protecting the EU’s essential interests.

Furthermore, the EU adopted Regulation (EU) No. 1219/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 establishing transitional agreements for bilateral investment agreements between individual EU members and third countries with a view to ensure consistency in the investment policy with third countries and that the existing bilateral investment treaties of the EU Member States with third countries are in compliance with EU law, the EU’s investment policy and external action. The EU also wants to ensure that the current bilateral investment treaties of the Member States do not pose obstacles to the EU’s negotiation of investment Chapters in EU-wide international trade agreements which the EU negotiates from time to time with third countries.

In November 2015, the EU agreed on a reformed investment dispute settlement approach through the proposal for an Investment Court System which should culminate in a permanent multilateral investment court project to rule on investment disputes. The Commission’s Trade for All Communication of 2015 also sets the objective of engaging with partners to build consensus for a permanent Multilateral Investment Court.  

The intention for this Multilateral Investment Court is to replace the court systems envisaged both in the EU trade agreements with third countries and to replace the dispute settlement provisions included bilateral investment treaties of the EU Member States.

On 20 March 2018, the Council adopted and published the negotiating directives for a multilateral investment court.