International Investment Law

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Sovereign White Knights: Defensive State-Capitalism as a Gate Keeper of (EU) Economic Security?

Geopolitical considerations have been creeping into corporate and international economic laws. Faced with rapidly increasing inbound foreign direct investment by corporations from competing economies, many countries have either strengthened existing, or developed new, investment screening mechanisms. These mechanisms enable host country governments to decide whether to admit foreign investment, and if so, whether conditions should be imposed. A key goal of the screening is to ensure foreign investments do not pose national security risks. While these mechanisms have existed in many Western countries since the 1970s, their use has increased exponentially in recent years in light of the current geopolitical situation with Russia and China leading to many investments being blocked. For example, the governments of the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy recently blocked the acquisitions of semi-conductor businesses by foreign buyers. Similar examples abound regarding acquisitions in extractive industries in particular in Canada and Australia. The power of governments under investment screening mechanisms is, however, not…

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Critical insecurities? The European Union’s trade and investment strategy for a stable supply of minerals for the green transition

Clashing over critical minerals The green transition is creating an exponential need for critical raw materials (“CRMs”), such as lithium, nickel and cobalt, as these are necessary for environmentally-friendly technologies, from wind turbines to electrical vehicles. The European Union (“EU”) is in desperate need of such minerals due to limited reserves at home and long-lasting…

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Politicization of the 5G rollout: Litigation way for Huawei?

The Chinese government’s ambition to become the global leader in new technologies, manifested in state-led industrial policies such as Made in China 2025, has prompted a strong response. For example, the United States significantly tightened its export control regulations and expanded grounds for foreign direct investment screening. In turn,…

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A Little Threat from My Friends: An EU-based Company Contemplates Taking War-Torn Ukraine to Investment Arbitration

On 18 August 2022, the Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine (ESBU) seized the assets of one of Ukraine’s largest fuel retailers, AMIC Ukraine, the local subsidiary of AMIC Energy, an Austrian private equity firm. The Ukrainian authorities acted on charges of tax fraud, money laundering, and – above all – the company’s alleged connection…

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A new variety of rights-based climate litigation: a challenge against the Energy Charter Treaty before the European Court of Human Rights

In the last couple of years, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has become a hotspot for rights-based climate change litigation. At the time of writing, seven cases are pending before the Court, with applicants seeking to challenge various aspects of domestic climate change laws and policies in the various respondent states, arguing that they violate their…

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