The Netherlands to leave embattled Energy Charter Treaty

27 10 2022 | 09:35Karl Mathiesen

Decision pushes the energy pact closer to a full European withdrawal.

The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) edged closer to a full-blown European revolt Tuesday, as the Netherlands became the latest country to announce it would withdraw from the deal.

Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Policy Rob Jetten announced the decision in the parliament on Tuesday. Spain made a similar call last week, with Poland also in the process of withdrawal. Italy has quit.

"A number of countries have now taken concrete steps to terminate their membership, and I'm going to look at how the Netherlands can best align with that as well," said Jetten. A spokesperson for Jetten confirmed to POLITICO that the decision to leave the deal was final.

Asked whether the Netherlands was cooperating with Spain and others to organize a mass EU withdrawal, the spokesperson said there was no formal coordination yet but said: "There are all sorts of conversations going on."

The deal has been under fire for the protections it offers to fossil fuel projects, allowing investors to sue governments in closed tribunals over policies directed at cutting emissions.

The Netherlands has been hit by two lawsuits under the treaty from coal plant operators pursuing the government for lost profits due to the country's plan to phase out the polluting fuel. One of those suits involves German utility Uniper, which has said it would drop the case if the German government takes a stake in the troubled company.

An attempt by the EU to reform the deal was resisted by the other members of the 50-plus-country treaty. The EU and U.K. instead won exemptions that allowed them to phase out protections for coal, oil and gas over 10 years.

Jetten said there had been improvements, but added: "We do not see how the ECT has been sufficiently aligned with the Paris Agreement." The secretary-general of the treaty, Guy Lentz, hit back at similar criticisms on Monday in an expletive-ridden tirade on Twitter, before deleting his account.

The reform proposal needs to be accepted by the EU. The Netherlands won't vote it down, the spokesperson for Jetten said, despite the country leaving the deal.


coverphoto: Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Policy Rob Jetten announced that the Netherlands will withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty Tuesday | Michal Cizek / AFP via Getty