Major victory as the European Parliament votes overwhelmingly in favour of exiting the climate-wrecking Energy Charter Treaty

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Source: Friends of the Earth Europe

CAN Europe | 24 April 2024

Major victory as the European Parliament votes overwhelmingly in favour of exiting the climate-wrecking Energy Charter Treaty

  • Press release

Brussels, 24 April – The European Parliament voted today largely in favour of the Commission’s proposal for the European Union to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), a landmark move that campaigners across Europe have been demanding for years.

Audrey Changoe, Trade and Investment Coordinator at CAN Europe said:

“The Energy Charter Treaty has given the biggest polluters, who are making huge margin profits, the opportunity to claim even more taxpayers’ money and hinder ambitious climate action. These resources are vital to ensure the green and just transition moves forward as quickly as possible. Today´s landmark vote in the European Parliament is an important step in getting the EU out of this hazardous treaty. The upcoming final vote at the EU Council should only be a rubber stamp to out the treaty in history where it belongs.”

In the past two years, eleven European countries have already announced their exit from the treaty: Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Slovenia, Poland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal and the UK. Italy withdrew earlier, in 2016.

Changoe continued:

“Following the EU’s example, we expect to see a wave of countries still within the ECT to leave the sinking ship. Even a modernised version of the Treaty would put climate action in the remaining countries in grave danger.”

The vote was passed at the European Parliament by 560 votes for and 43 against. The EU’s decision to leave the Energy Charter Treaty still needs final approval from the EU governments in the Council, but with the amount of support seen at the Parliament, it is widely anticipated that this will still come before the European Elections in June.

Today’s vote was on a Commission proposal for the EU institutions and Euratom to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty. The Commission considers that the ECT is not in line with the EU’s legal order, its investment policy and law, and its energy and climate goals. The proposal broke months of deadlock by leaving the option open for some member states to remain in the treaty, while facilitating an orderly exit for others.


Notes to the Editor:

About the Energy Charter Treaty: The Energy Charter Treaty gives companies sweeping rights to sue governments through parallel private courts or investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms. This allows companies, even climate-wrecking fossil fuel companies, to claim billions of taxpayers’ money if governments pass or enforce legitimate and much-needed climate and environmental laws. Cases are heard in secretive tribunals outside of the national legal system.

Some examples of cases:

  • In 2021, German coal firms RWE and Uniper sought €2.4bn in damages from the Dutch government over its 2030 coal phase-out deadline.
  • In 2022, The British oil company Rockhopper was awarded €190 million plus interest under the Energy Charter Treaty after Italy banned offshore drilling, following a decade of struggle by Italian coastal communities who fought the oil production on their coasts.
  • Last November, the oil company Klesch Group Holdings Limited sued the EU, Germany and Denmark for at least €95 million over windfall taxes under the Energy Charter Treaty. The lawsuit by the oil company targeted Europe’s efforts to cushion the economic impact of high energy prices.
source: CAN Europe