France to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty
The controversial treaty, which entered into force in 1998, has been used by energy companies to sue governments over regulatory changes that endanger returns over specific investments.
As such, member states have raised doubts that the treaty can be compatible with countries’ commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement on emissions reduction.
At the European Council press conference in Brussels, the French president said that France’s exit from the treaty was “requested by many”.
“Our desire is to move as quickly as possible towards a European Union as an all-electric continent,” Macron said.
Pressure has been growing for the EU to withdraw altogether from the treaty, with a growing list of member states choosing to exit the agreement: on Tuesday, the Netherlands joined Spain and Poland in announcing its withdrawal.
On Thursday, the French High Council for the Climate (HCC), a body reporting to the Prime Minister and made up of independent experts, urged the state to follow the example of its European partners.
The treaty is in the process of being modernised, with the Commission deeming it “obsolete” as it stands.
In its advice on the modernisation process, the HCC argued that “only by withdrawing from the ECT […] can the incompatibility of the treaty with the 2030 decarbonisation timetable be removed.”
Manon Aubry, president of the Left group in the European Parliament, welcomed France’s decision to withdraw this “climate-killing treaty,” which she added, is a “huge victory for the planet against fossil fuel companies.”
Green MEP Marie Toussaint also celebrated the move, describing it as “the end of a completely abusive protection for fossil fuel multinationals.”
Former WWF boss Pascal Canfin, now an MEP and chairman of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, likewise voiced his support for the decision, as did Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, a member of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, who described the treaty as “contrary to the Paris Agreement and our ambitions in the Green Deal.”
Now, the spotlight turns to the remaining member states who are a part of the treaty.
In the wake of the announcement, François Gemenne, co-author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report asked if Brussels would consider withdrawing at the EU level.
France’s HCC confirmed it would also support such a measure.