Civil Society Organisations, including CAN Europe, welcome the Commission’s non-paper on the next steps regarding the membership of the EU and Euratom to the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). In particular, we strongly agree with the Commission Services that the EU’s withdrawal from the ECT is unavoidable and that a coordinated withdrawal of the EU and all Member States is by far the best option.
Why is an EU withdrawal unavoidable?
The ECT reform does not have enough political support: The European Parliament has rejected the reform as insufficient and called on the Commission and Member States to initiate a coordinated withdrawal. Over 1 million citizens have signed a petition for withdrawal and seven of the EU’s Member States have already decided to leave (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Luxembourg and Slovenia; Italy already left in 2016), including its major outward investors.
There is no plausible scenario for the reform to ever enter into force if the EU remains a member. EU ratification requires the consent of the European Parliament and all EU Member States (see this legal blog), including those that want to leave or have left.
The ECT is an obstacle to sovereign climate and energy policies, even if it were to be reformed. The French High Council on Climate has concluded that the ECT, “even in a modernised form, is not compatible with the pace of decarbonisation of the energy sector and the intensity of emissions reduction efforts needed by 2030, as reiterated by the IEA and assessed by the IPCC.” Recently, investors have also started launching cases against policies adopted in response to the energy price crisis (see for instance).
It is generally accepted that the current version of the ECT is fundamentally incompatible with EU law and the only way forward for the EU and the Member States to rectify this is a coordinated withdrawal.