There are currently 53 signatories and contracting parties to the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), including both the European Union and Euratom. The treaty was signed in 1994 and entered into force in April 1998.
The treaty provides a multilateral framework for energy cooperation that is unique under international law. It is designed to promote energy security through the operation of more open and competitive energy markets, while respecting the principles of sustainable development and sovereignty over energy resources. It also established the Energy Charter Conference an inter-governmental organisation, which meets on a regular basis to discuss issues affecting energy cooperation.
In addition to the Energy Charter Conference, the International Energy Charter promotes mutually beneficial energy cooperation among nations deriving from all continents for the sake of energy security and sustainability.
The Energy Charter Treaty is in need of revision to face the challenges of the 21st century. The EU is leading these efforts, as backed by EU leaders in the January 2021 Council conclusions on climate and energy diplomacy.
These conclusions state that “EU energy diplomacy will discourage all further investments into fossil fuel based energy infrastructure projects, unless they are fully consistent with an ambitious, clearly defined pathway towards climate neutrality in line with the long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and best available science”.
Negotiations on the modernisation of the Energy Charter Treaty started in July 2020 and will continue at regular intervals, with five rounds of negotiations scheduled to take place in 2021. The EU has previously submitted proposals to rework the provisions on investment, sustainable development and dispute settlement, and more recently, in advance of the next round of negotiations due to take place between 2 and 5 March 2021, submitted to the ECT a proposal for redefining the “economic activity in the energy sector”.
The negotiations of the modernisation of the Energy Charter Treaty finalised in June 2022. The agreement in principle to close negotiations will trigger a so-called silence procedure on the final text between the Contracting Parties of the ECT. If no Contracting Party breaks the silence, the text can be formally adopted at the Energy Charter Conference foreseen in November 2022. Once approved and ratified, the modernised Energy Charter Treaty will facilitate sustainable investments in the energy sector and provide legal certainty while reflecting clean energy transition goals.
- Commission submission on revised definition of economic activity in the energy sectors (15 February 2021)
- Decision on the Energy Charter Protocol on energy efficiency and related environmental aspects (98/181/EC, ECSC, Euratom)
- News - Agreement in principle reached on Modernised Energy Charter Treaty (24 June 2022)
- Energy Charter website