ECT vote and withdrawals

Amid a growing number of national decisions to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty, pressure on the European Commission to prepare a withdrawal of the bloc is increasing. So far, seven EU member states have announced withdrawals (Germany, Slovenia, Poland, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Luxembourg). Together with Italy, which withdrew in 2016, these states represent more than 70% of the bloc’s population. Having failed to rally the required support for the reform by member states, the Commission was compelled to request the postponement of the Conference vote on the reform, initially scheduled on November 22. According to information published by the Energy Charter Secretariat, further discussions on the reform are now foreseen in April 2023. Meanwhile, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the Commission to take steps toward a coordinated withdrawal from the treaty. Without the support of EU parliamentarians, the chances of a successful adoption of the reform in the EU are minimal. Considering these developments, the Commission has stated for the first time that it will assess how to withdraw from the treaty. Any withdrawal from the treaty would trigger the treaty’s sunset clause, which grants existing investments 20 years of additional protection. However, withdrawing states could neutralize the sunset clause by modifying the treaty inter se, a policy option that IISD has examined in more detail here.