Energy Charter Treaty: time to move from reform to exit

Exit ECT

(13 February 2023) The European Commission says that an EU exit from the Energy Charter Treaty seems “unavoidable”, recommending a joint EU withdrawal. The information came in a leaked document outlining the EU’s possible ‘next steps’ regarding the ETS and was presented to European diplomats early this week.

EPSU welcomes the Commission’s recommendation and calls on Europe’s Member States to support a coordinated exit. The Treaty is fundamentally flawed and poses a serious threat to Europe’s climate goals. It seriously undermines the Green New Deal and Paris Climate Agreement by offering a mechanism allowing companies to sue countries that have signed the treaty if their climate related actions harm the companies’ profits.

The recommendation is a welcome shift from the Commission, who have been pushing to reform the treaty rather than abandoning it. France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Poland have already announced plans to exit the treaty, echoing EPSU’s belief that the treaty represents an outdated era of fossil fuel production.

The news is a victory for campaigners from across the world - including Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory, EPSU and the Transnational Institute – who have long called for a withdrawal of the ECT. EPSU now calls for the Commission to push forward its exit plan and end an outdated chapter in energy production.

As it becomes clear that Europe’s adherence to the ECT may be ending soon, there are concerns that the ECT secretariat is now targeting oil-producing countries from the global south as new members. This is a move that would again undermine global climate efforts and lock these countries into archaic models.