European Commission wants to put Energy Charter Treaty modernisation on hold

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After the modernisation of the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) failed to get approval from European member states last week, the European Commission wants to postpone the reform temporarily. A spokeswoman announced this on Monday. In Belgium, green parties and federal climate ministers Zakia Khattabi (Ecolo) and Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen) are pushing for a Belgian exit from the treaty.

The Energy Charter Treaty has existed since the 1990s to encourage investment in the energy sector. But it also allows private investors to file lawsuits against governments that roll back their energy policies, making it incompatible with the European ambition to phase out fossil fuel investments as soon as possible.

Stimulated by the European Commission, member states negotiated to modernise the ECT

Stimulated by the European Commission, member states negotiated to modernise the ECT. Although those negotiations ended in June, disagreement remains over the possible phase-out period for protecting fossil fuel investments. So far, seven European countries have signalled their intention to leave the treaty.

Four countries - France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain - also refused to approve the modernisation of the treaty at the EU level last week. Therefore, the European Commission is now proposing to put everything on hold.

On Tuesday, the treaty's 53 signatories will meet at an ETC conference, where modernisation is supposed to be the main topic. However, the Commission wants to take the matter off the agenda. After all, the reform needs unanimous approval.

"The next step now is to start discussions with EU member states"

"The next step now is to start discussions with EU member states. But we are not going to speculate on the outcome," it sounded. The Commission still believes it has fulfilled its mandate to negotiate a modernisation of the Energy Charter Treaty.

In Belgium, the green parties and federal climate ministers Zakia Khattabi (Ecolo) and Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen) are pushing for a Belgian exit from the treaty. Still, not all other governing parties want to follow.

On Monday morning, Greenpeace protested at the N-VA headquarters in Brussels. According to the environmental organisation, the party is blocking a Belgian exit from the ECT. "Flemish minister of Environment Demir thinks we should stay in the convention because it allows us to protect investments in renewable energy. But if we look at the history of the treaty, it is largely the fossil companies that sue governments for climate policy," Mathieu Soete of Greenpeace concluded.

 

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