Pressure on Vienna to exit controversial investment treaty grows

(EurActiv, 14 Nov 2022) As EU countries, including Germany and France, look to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), pressure on the Austrian government to follow suit is growing.

The Energy Charter Treaty is an investment protection treaty designed in the 1990s to protect new investments into energy infrastructure in former-Soviet countries. As countries look to phase out fossil fuels, companies have used the treaty to sue for damages.

On Friday, the German government struck an intra-government deal that included an exit from the ECT. France, Poland, Spain, and the Netherlands have also announced their intention to withdraw and Italy left the treaty in 2015. Now, opposition parties and their associated trade unions want Austria to follow suit.

“Now even the federal government must finally realise: There is no way around withdrawing from the Energy Charter Treaty,” explained Julia Herr, speaker for environment policy at the social democrat SPÖ – the largest and poll-leading opposition party.

The modernisation of the treaty, which must be passed unanimously, is coming up at an ECT summit end of November. According to Herr, the treaty reform was “not a good solution.”

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EurActiv, 14 Nov 2022: Pressure on Vienna to exit controversial investment treaty grows