Belgian Climate Minister wants to withdraw from Energy Charter Treaty

Following earlier exit announcements by France, Spain, the Netherlands and Poland, a Belgian withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty also appears increasingly likely. The country's Climate Minister Zakia Khattabi (Ecolo, French-speaking Green Party) wants Belgium to withdraw from the treaty and will deliver that message at the European council of environment ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

The Energy Charter Treaty came into force in 1998 and has been signed by 53 countries. The purpose of the text is to provide special protection for investors in the energy sector and allow companies to initiate arbitration proceedings against a state if it takes decisions that would be detrimental to their interests.

"Despite its modernisation, we have to conclude that the treaty goes against Belgian and European climate ambitions"

Negotiations to modernise the treaty have been ongoing for some time, but Belgium's federal climate minister says the result will go against Belgian and European climate ambitions.

The treaty has long been a thorn in the side of NGOs and some member states who want to withdraw from the agreement. They denounce that the treaty is being used by energy companies and investors to discourage member states from exiting fossil fuels and to demand financial sanctions. Belgium's green parties have called for a coordinated European exit from the treaty before.

In an announcement, Minister Khattabi also stated that the treaty is considered a Trojan Horse for European climate policy. A modernisation process has been underway since 2017. After 15 rounds of negotiations, a final agreement is expected at the next Energy Charter Conference on November 22.

The steps taken in the meantime are sorely lacking, according to the minister. "Never before have we been confronted so harshly with the consequences of climate disruption. Despite its modernisation, we have to conclude that the treaty goes against Belgian and European climate ambitions," Khattabi said. That is why she believes it is time for a clear signal. "This is why I wish Belgium, like Poland, Spain, the Netherlands and France, to withdraw from the treaty."



Belgian Federal Environment and Climate Minister Zakia Khattabi © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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