ECT modernization: Conference meets in December 2019, sets stage for 2020 negotiating meetings

The negotiations for ECT modernization are now underway, with the first such meetings held in December 2019 and at least four other sessions planned over 2020.

The talks took place following the Energy Charter Conference meetings in Brussels from December 10–11, 2019. According to a Conference meeting summary issued thereafter, the “top priority” for next year will be the modernization process.

The first negotiating round was held in Brussels starting on December 12, though a public summary of those discussions is not available. The talks were initially meant to be held in Albania, but a natural disaster in the Balkan country caused a change in venue. Subsequent talks, according to the provisional timetable released last year, are planned in April, July, and October 2020, with a stocktaking planned for December.

Even with the modernization negotiations underway, the potential for the process to resolve the treaty’s many known challenges remains unclear. The existing treaty, which dates back to the mid-1990s, has seen the highest number of investment arbitrations among IIAs, as well as the largest investment arbitration awards on record. Questions remain over whether the modernization process will be sufficient to make the deal conducive to ambitious climate action and whether contracting parties might be better served by pursuing termination or withdrawal.