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After France’s withdrawal from the ECT, what are the next steps?

Clémentine Baldon & Mathilde Dupré, 11 January 2023

[English] [français]

The French government has notified its withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty. This will become effective on 1 January 2024.

This decision is a real collective victory: it is the result of a tremendous mobilization of European civil society organizations for more than 4 years with the support of more than one million citizens, a complaint filed by 5 young climate victims and the determined action of a small group of parliamentarians!

But this is not the end of the story, as the EU must now also get out of the ECT as well. To do this, the Member States that have announced their exit (France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland and Slovenia) must act collectively to

  • convince other member states to leave, and
  • ask the Commission to quickly put a withdrawal proposal on the table of the Council (see our memo on the legal implications a EU withdrawal from the ECT).

The Commission is still resisting and has obtained at the November 2022 Conference of States Parties to the Treaty a further delay until April 2023 to take a decision on the modernisation of the Treaty. This delay is unnecessary, however, as the European Parliament has already made it clear that it will not ratify the modernised treaty and has also called for an exit from the EU.

In parallel, it is of course also necessary to prepare an agreement between the states that withdraw from the treaty to neutralise the effects of the survival clause between them, which prolongs the effects of the treaty for 20 years after an exit (see the article of Rosanne Craveia, Clémentine Baldon and Nikos Braoudakis, published in the ICSID Review on the possibility of adopting an inter se agreement between the states parties that will withdraw from the TEC to this effect).

We have never been so close to the end of the ECT, but there are still steps to be taken to completely defuse this archaic and incompatible treaty with the Paris Climate Agreement.

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