When the Lisbon Treaty came into effect, the competence for concluding agreements on direct investments passed to the EU. EU member states are, however, still able to conclude bilateral investment protection agreements if there is no respective EU agreement.
In order to support Austrian companies in their investment ventures abroad and to create favourable conditions for mastering any risks that might occur, it is very important to Austria to conclude national bilateral agreements with its trading partners on the promotion and protection of investments. 63 Austrian investment protection agreements are currently in force. In new negotiations (that have to be approved by the European Commission), the Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs which conducts the negotiations focuses mainly on those countries that are of greatest importance as business partners or future markets for Austrian companies. In doing so, the Ministry cooperates closely with the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and the Austrian Economic Chamber.
Since 2008, all negotiations are based on a model text adopted by the Federal Government on 30 January 2008 after an all-encompassing participatory process with the involvement of the social partners and academic experts. In European and international comparison the text is considered a state-of-the-art role model agreement. The agreement covers requests made by representatives of the Austrian economy and also states that foreign investment of companies must comply with international human rights, labour and environmental standards in a responsible manner as well as with the international anti-corruption standards.