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9 Feb 2023


EU Commission to quit Energy Charter Treaty

Exit from Energy Charter Treaty ‘unavoidable’, EU Commission says, 9 February 2023

The European Commission has told member countries that a joint EU exit from a controversial international energy treaty appears inevitable, according to a document seen by EURACTIV, with some of them already leaving the accord on climate concerns.

The 1998 Energy Charter Treaty, which has more than 50 signatories including European Union countries, was designed to protect companies in the energy industry by allowing them to sue governments on policies affecting their investments. But in recent years it has been used to challenge policies that require fossil fuel plants to shut – raising concerns that it is an obstacle to addressing climate change.

FranceGermanythe Netherlands, Poland and Spain have already announced plans to quit the treaty, increasing pressure on Brussels to coordinate an EU-wide withdrawal. Italy left in 2016.

In an unofficial document shared with EU countries, the European Commission said the “most adequate” option would be for the EU and its 27 member states to leave. The Commission does list alternative options, such as ratifying the modernised ECT and leaving afterwards, or leaving while granting a derogation for some EU countries to remain. However, none of those are considered practical. “A withdrawal of the EU and Euratom from the Energy Charter Treaty appears to be unavoidable,” said the so-called “non-paper”. A spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed it would recommend an EU exit and present the suggestion to diplomats from member countries in a meeting on Tuesday (7 February).