Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Speech at the European Parliament on Repsol
Strasbourg, 18 April 2012
The European Commission is seriously concerned by the announcement of the Argentine Government to expropriate the majority stake held by Repsol in YPF, the largest oil producer in Argentina. Clearly this has been a very significant EU investment in Argentina.
A takeover of YPF, which is an important EU investment in Argentina, sends a very negative signal to international investors, who seek stability and predictability for their investments, and it could seriously harm the business environment in Argentina. The measure creates legal insecurity not only for the Spanish company Repsol but also for other EU firms.
The Commission urges the Government of Argentina to ensure compliance with its international commitments on the treatment and protection of investments originating from a Member State of the European Union - in this case the Spanish-Argentina Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty.
This Bilateral Investment Treaty between Spain and Argentina contains clauses that would regulate the process and the conditions for any nationalisation or expropriation, including the prohibition of discrimination and adequate compensation. It also contains clauses on the resolution of disputes.
The legal arrangements between Argentina and Spain are spelled out in black and white in this bilateral investment treaty. Therefore let us underline that in terms of any possible legal response it is for Spain and Repsol to consider the appropriate legal avenues they may wish to pursue.
The European Commission has already, through the EU Delegation in Argentina, conveyed its concerns to the Government of Argentina.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will send a letter to his counterpart, the Argentinean trade minister, expressing our serious concerns.
Due to the climate created by the expropriation, the European Commission and the High Representative have decided to postpone the EU-Argentina Joint Committee foreseen for 19-20 April.
As I can no longer be sure that European investment is sufficiently protected, I have cancelled the mission of my Directorate General to Argentina scheduled for next week. The objective of this mission had been to foster industrial cooperation which would have been of mutual benefit to Argentina and the EU.
The European Commission fully supports for the Spanish government in this matter.
The European Commission is studying the Argentine draft measure to determine, in liaison with the Spanish authorities, the next steps.
I would like to highlight the need for mutually agreed solutions which do not harm the business environment and EU-Argentina relations.