US State Department
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
September 5, 2003
Bilateral Investment Treaties with European Union Accession States
We are pleased that on September 2 the European Commission endorsed a political Understanding preserving U.S. bilateral investment treaties with eight countries that are acceding, or are candidates for accession, to the European Union (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Bulgaria and Romania).
The United States supports European Union enlargement and is pleased that we have reached an Understanding that both maintains a positive investment environment in the accession states and furthers the objective of assuring compatibility between the obligations of U.S. bilateral investment treaties and the obligations of membership in the European Union.
U.S. investment contributes positively to these countries’ economic development. Their membership in the European Union, together with the continuation of their agreements with the United States, will only serve to reinforce the message that Europe in general, and these countries in particular, welcome foreign investment.
We hope to sign this political Understanding and the amendments to our bilateral investment treaties later this month, after they have been approved by the accession states. The amendments will accommodate EU measures in such areas as the audio-visual, agriculture, financial services, transportation and fisheries sectors.
The Understanding also provides for continuing consultations on the issue of European Union authority to restrict capital movements in extraordinary circumstances and its relationship to obligations in our agreements with accession countries to permit investment related funds to be made freely.
Although the European Union, like the United States, has a strong policy favoring the free movement of capital and, thus, potential conflict with the bilateral investment treaties in this area is largely theoretical, we look forward to consulting with the Commission and the other participants on how best to carry this discussion forward.
Preserving United States bilateral investment treaties will ensure that U.S. investors continue to benefit from valuable protections, including the ability to take investment disputes to international arbitration.
Released on September 5, 2003