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France urges the EU to withdraw from the ECT

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Stoyanov Marie
Marie Stoyanov

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Valentin Bourgeois

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03 March 2021

The EU should express its readiness to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty, France says in a letter to the European Commission.

The slow progress of the ECT reform negotiations demonstrate the delicate balance to be found between the EU’s ambitious agenda, with the EU seeking to modernise the ECT and notably establish a multilateral investment court, and other States’ commitment to maintaining the current investor-sate dispute resolution mechanism in place. Any change to the ECT must be unanimously approved, so any of the ECT’s 53 signatories can block a proposal.

Against this background, and in a context marked by the 2018 Achmea judgment and last year’s decision by 23 Member States to terminate 130 intra-EU bilateral investment treaties, four French Minister have issued a joint letter urging the EU to signal that it was ready to proceed to a “coordinated withdrawal” from the ECT, together with all its Member States. In case of a withdrawal without successful modernisation, the ECT could remain the basis for new investor-state disputes in the next 20 years. It is, therefore, unclear how France’s termination proposal would work in practice.