Bratislava, November 8 (TASR) – Slovakia has won a nearly-ten-year dispute with Achmea that concerned the ban on health insurance company profits as the German supreme court cancelled on Thursday the arbitration decision against Slovakia, meaning that Slovakia does not have to indemnify the shareholder of Union ZP health insurer, TASR learnt from the Finance Ministry on the same day.
According to the ministry, the related distraint proceedings in Luxembourg should be completed in the near future, which would entail the release of the blocked €30 million. “The decision has confirmed what we were saying years ago, namely that we wouldn’t pay Achmea a single euro in this dispute. Finally the court gave us the truth and all the ‘vultures’, who have been screaming for years that we would lose it, were rejoicing in vain. I therefore want to thank the whole team for their work and say that we’re happy about this result,” Finance Minister Peter Kazimir (Smer-SD) said after the verdict was released.
Achmea filed the lawsuit against the Slovak Republic in October 2008. The reason was the ban on health insurance company profits during the first government of Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD), which was allegedly contrary to the bilateral investment agreement. The arbitration tribunal issued a ruling in December 2012, in which it found a violation of this international treaty by Slovakia. One month later Slovakia appealed to the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt. Following a negative verdict in response to Slovakia’s appeal, the Slovak Government submitted an appeal to the Federal Court of Justice of Germany.
According to the ministry, the German supreme court in its decision-making was obliged to take into account the verdict of the European Court of Justice, that is why such an outcome was awaited. The Finance Ministry says that the ruling of the Court of Justice is “relevant, not only for the Slovak Republic, but also for all other EU member states facing similar investment arbitrations worth several hundred million of euros”.
The ministry also added that “this decision has created a crucial precedent that has set investment arbitration under bilateral investment agreements concluded between EU member states outside EU rules, including nearly 200 different investment protection agreements that are likely to be cancelled as well”.
Union ZP health insurer won’t comment on the court’s decision for now.