The Energy Charter Treaty is on life support with little chance of revival

(EurActiv, 12 Dec 2022) After the withdrawal of eight EU member states, the European Commission has little prospect of reviving stalled talks to modernise the 1998 Energy Charter Treaty. A more sensible way forward is to engineer a coordinated withdrawal, accompanied by an agreement to cancel the ‘sunset clause’ between EU countries, argues Yamina Saheb.

Dr Yamina Saheb is a senior climate and energy policy analyst at OpenExp, a Paris-based think tank, and a former head of the Energy Efficiency Unit at the Energy Charter Secretariat. 

After reaching an “agreement in principle” on the modernisation of the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), the European Commission’s plans received a setback with the withdrawal of seven EU member states.

The death knell for this archaic treaty was sounded back in 2009 when Russia announced its departure from the ECT. In the past months Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Germany, Slovenia, and Luxembourg have all announced their decision to withdraw prior to the ministerial meeting at which the “agreement in principle” should have been adopted.

Their decisions were motivated by a lack of satisfaction, especially from a climate change perspective, with what the 15 rounds of negotiations on the ECT modernisation had achieved.

These withdrawals should become effective by the end of 2023, increasing the number of EU countries no longer party to the ECT to eight, representing more than 70% of the EU population (Italy withdrew in 2016).

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EurActiv, 12 Dec 2022: The Energy Charter Treaty is on life support with little chance of revival