Press Release: EU Parliament votes to leave the climate-wrecking Energy Charter Treaty

Press Release: EU Parliament votes to leave the climate-wrecking Energy Charter Treaty

Today, the European Parliament adopted the EU’s proposal to leave the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), an international trade agreement protecting fossil fuel investments. The Energy Charter Treaty is a significant obstacle to enacting national policies to combat climate change.  After years of campaigning for an exit, Friends of the Earth Europe and climate justice activists across Europe celebrate this victory for the environment and the climate.

The proposal was put to plenary vote in the EU Parliament after the Belgian EU Presidency brokered a deal with the European Commission and member states on an EU withdrawal, and following its preliminary approval by the EU Council.

The European Union is now following a long list of Member States – including France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Poland – who already took the decision to withdraw from the treaty in the last two years. A petition to leave the ECT was signed by more than 1 million European citizens.

Paul de Clerck, trade expert at Friends of the Earth Europe, commented: “Today’s vote proves people power can win even over big corporations. After years of campaigning, we’ve successfully lifted the ECT’s sword of Damocles threatening EU governments’ climate action goals.

Climate Campaign Coordinator at Friends of the Earth Malta, Dr Suzanne Maas, added: “The proposed Melita TransGas Pipeline is one of many fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are still being proposed today, even though the climate science clearly says we need to move away from fossil fuels now, and invest in the shift to renewable energy instead. The EU Parliament vote to leave the Energy Charter Treaty is great news, as continued membership enables companies to take legal action against member states to protect their fossil fuel investments, which would lock us into fossil fuel dependency for decades more and descend us further into climate chaos.”

Friends of the Earth Malta has been campaigning for a withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty and sent a letter to Energy Minister Miriam Dalli in February 2023 alongside 10 European environmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth Europe, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, and Client Earth. The letter was followed up by a request for a meeting to discuss withdrawal from the ECT with the directors of these European organisations, which was declined by the Ministry on account of “aspects of a restricted nature”.

Today’s vote was on a EU Commission proposal for the EU and Euratom to exit the Energy Charter Treaty. The vote was passed by 560 votes in favour and 43 against. The EU Council must now provide its final green light. This is expected to happen in May or June, before the end of the Belgian presidency.

Friends of the Earth Malta’s recommendations for Malta’s energy system can be found in our report ‘Towards a Fossil Free Malta’, published in June 2023.



  • The letter and accompanied briefing on why Malta should support ECT withdrawal sent to the Ministry for Energy in February 2023 are attached.
  • The full list of votes by MEPs (with full names and party) is not yet available, it will be accessible later on at



Today’s vote

Today’s vote was on a EU Commission proposal for the EU and Euratom to exit the Energy Charter Treaty. The Commission deems the ECT incompatible with the EU’s legal order, investment policy and law, and energy and climate goals. The proposal broke months of deadlock by offering member states the option to remain in the treaty while facilitating an orderly exit for others.

The vote was passed by 560 votes in favour and 43 against.

The European Parliament had previously adopted a resolution in November 2022 calling on the EU to withdraw from the ECT.

About the ECT

The Energy Charter Treaty dates back from the 1990s and grants sweeping rights and protections to big energy investors – mainly fossil fuel companies. The fossil fuel industry is using it to sue governments over their climate policies and claim billions of taxpayers’ money in compensation for loss of profits. Cases are heard in parallel private courts or ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) mechanisms, with settlements made by commercial arbiters who have an incentive to favour corporations.In Europe alone €350 billion euros worth of oil, gas and coal projects are protected under this treaty.

Some examples of cases:

  • In 2021, German coal firms RWE and Uniper sought €2.4bn in damages from the Dutch government over its 2030 coal phase-out deadline. Both cases have now been discontinued.
  • In 2022, The British oil company Rockhopper was awarded €190 million plus interest under the Energy Charter Treaty after Italy banned offshore drilling, following a decade of struggle by Italian coastal communities who fought  the oil production on their coasts.
  • Last November, the oil company Klesch Group Holdings Limited sued the EU, Germany and Denmark for at least €95 million over windfall taxes under the Energy Charter Treaty. The lawsuit by the oil company targeted Europe’s efforts to cushion the economic impact of high energy prices.


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