President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

I would like to thank you for this opportunity to debate on this important topic today.

The Energy Charter Treaty is in need of substantial reform. In the past years, the European Union, including this Parliament, and the Member States, have repeatedly called for a modernisation of the Charter. The need for reform is also considered necessary by most of the other Contracting Parties.

Based on its negotiating mandate, the Commission has engaged in this negotiation with determination and a clear position. However, we know that a successful modernisation of the Energy Charter Treaty will be a challenge and it will require that all the Contracting Parties and stakeholders contribute to this collective result.

For the EU, the objective of “greening” the Energy Charter Treaty is at the heart of the modernisation process. Member States have given the Commission a mandate to negotiate which reflects the EU’s reformed investment protection standards and ensures strong sustainable development provisions.

The Commission also has a duty to make the Energy Charter future proof so it can help us address climate change and clean energy transition goals, and facilitate a transition to a low-carbon energy system, in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

With the adoption of the European Green Deal and the EU commitment to move to climate neutrality by 2050, the European Commission has now stepped up its climate ambitions. Once confirmed by the co-legislators, the revised GHG emissions reduction targets for 2030 will need to be reflected in our negotiations. A level of ambition as proposed by the Commission for at least 55% greenhouse gas reduction requires transposition in concrete actions, including in external dimension of the EU energy and climate policies.

Honourable Members, let me update you on the progress of the Energy Charter’s Treaty modernisation process.

The negotiations with the Energy Charter’s Contracting Parties have started in 2020. We had two rounds of negotiations so far, in July and September. A third round is scheduled for 3-6 November. Another round is already planned for end February or March 2021.

Based on the negotiating directives adopted by the Council in July 2019, the Commission submitted in advance of the first round of negotiations a proposal addressing specifically investment protection and dispute settlement.

The text proposed also puts forward new provisions on sustainable development - in the area of climate change and clean energy transition in particular. These provisions recognise the urgent need of pursuing the Paris Agreement in order to effectively combat climate change and its impacts and to regulate to that effect, at national level.

Our ambition in the modernisation reflects the EU’s leading role in ensuring that the energy transition happens also in partner countries, in line with Paris Agreement goals. For this reason, we will proceed with a pragmatic and realistic approach to ensure successful outcomes.

The complex negotiations ahead of us involve a variety of actors and require increased cooperation and accelerated efforts in order to achieve the necessary consensus among all Contracting Parties, some of which are at different stages of development of their energy and climate policies.

We can trust that the European Green Deal is at the core of our EU policy. It is our political aim to ensure that the Energy Charter Treaty only protects those investments that support transition to a climate neutral energy system. We want to make the European Charter a tool also for a clean energy transition that is aligned with our EU agenda and with our collective goals under the Paris Agreement. 

We count on the European Parliament, to support us in this process.