The European Commission has launched a consultation to help it decide whether there is a need for an EU framework for the amicable prevention and resolution of disputes between public authorities and investors.

The main focus of the consultation is on mediation, which the Commission said could help ensure a cost-effective and quick resolution of disputes between investors and public authorities, and even prevent such problems.

However, mediation did not appear to be used very much, it said.

An alternative policy option, according to the Commission, could be to establish a network of national contact points, which would be responsible for providing advice and information to investors about the local legal environment relevant to their investment. These contact points could intervene on investors’ behalf with public authorities when complex legal or factual situations require such action.

The Commission is also seeking views on where more awareness about the existing rights of cross-border EU investors is needed.

It said there was “currently some degree of complexity and an apparent lack of awareness amongst a number of market participants, legal practitioners and the public authorities on the level of protection afforded to cross-border EU investors by EU law”.

The Commission said it planned to provide guidance on existing EU rules for treatment of cross-border investments.

The backdrop to the consultation is the Commission’s Capital Markets Union (CMU) project and the ambition to facilitate more cross-border investments in the EU.

Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for financial stability, financial services and the CMU, said: “The single market already contains clear safeguards for setting up businesses or buying companies in other EU countries.

“But for a well-functioning single market the adequate and amicable prevention and resolution of disputes could be a useful supplement to existing rules. This is why the Commission is exploring whether rules for the amicable resolution of investment disputes should be set up in order to save time and money both for EU investors and national authorities.”

The consultation is open until 3 November 2017 and can be found here.