Metro Lisbon. Photo: Koshelyev (under Creative Commons)
As Portugal tries to take back control of Metro Lisbon, Mexican privateers turn to #ISDS
One of the main complaints unions make about the investment protection elements of trade deals known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is that it would be used against governments trying to bring privatised services back into public ownership. “Oh no it won’t!” cry the apparently pantomime-inspired defenders of ISDS. They should have a close look at the case Mexican company Grupo Autobuses de Oriente (ADO) is taking against the Government of Portugal over the privatisation of Lisbon’s public transport system.
The previous Portuguese government had undertaken in June 2015 to hand over the ownership and management of Metro Lisbon and the city’s buses to the Mexican company’s Spanish subsidiary Avanza, but when the socialists won the election later that year, they decided that the decision should be reversed. The undertaking had not even been approved by the country’s Court of Audits when the government cancelled the agreement, but ADO are now using a Bilateral Investment Treaty between Mexico and Portugal to sue the government for €42m.
So… maybe we’re right to be worried about the investment protection provisions of deals like the Canada-EU so-called trade deal CETA which the British Government – despite its apparent support for ‘national sovereignty’ – is so keen to sign and use as a model for the EU-UK deal post-Brexit. That’s why unions and anyone who wants to protect public services and defend democracy are opposed to CETA.