The Last Bite of the BITs—Supremacy of EU Law versus Investment Treaty Arbitration



According to Article 267 TFEU, national courts of the EU Member States can (and sometimes must) ask for a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice on the interpretation and application of Community law, including international treaties and recommendations, and on the validity of Community secondary legislation. In this way, it is ensured that EU citizens are treated equally throughout the Union. However, this is not applicable when it comes to arbitral proceedings, be they commercial or investment arbitrations. The Court does not accept references for preliminary rulings from arbitral tribunals. For this reason, respondent states in international arbitral proceedings have argued that arbitration and EU law are utterly incompatible. In their submissions as respondents in arbitral proceedings, EU Member States have argued that, as a result of EU accession, bilateral investment treaties (BITs) have been automatically terminated. In subsidiary, they sometimes claim that, due to their incompatibility with EU law, BITs cannot apply. But if BITs are not applicable anymore, there are few remedies left for investors within the EU.