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Spain demands EU leave energy treaty over climate concerns

Spain on Tuesday demanded the EU quit an energy investment treaty that it says threatens the bloc’s climate goals.

Deputy Prime Minister Teresa Ribera said 14 rounds of talks to reform the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) — including on an EU proposal to phase out cover for coal, oil and gas — have made it clear that the effort “will fail to ensure the alignment of the ECT with the Paris Agreement and the objectives of the European Green Deal.”

“At a time when accelerating a clean energy transition has become more urgent than ever, it is time that the EU and its member states initiate a coordinated withdrawal from the ECT,” she said.

That makes Spain the first country to publicly call for an exit from the treaty.

The ECT allows companies to sue states in closed tribunals for revenues they lose due to changes in government policy. That has recently led to suits against some countries, including the Netherlands, over coal phaseout policies.

Several countries, including Spain and France, have previously called for the European Commission to prepare legal advice on walking out of the pact, which carries a clause that means countries can still be sued for 20 years after they pull out.

Members of the 54-country treaty will meet on Friday to formally conclude the reform talks. Two EU officials told POLITICO that the EU’s proposal to phase out fossil fuel protections over 10 years remains under discussion — although Japan is opposed.

The Commission, which is negotiating on behalf of EU member countries, is expected to announce Europe’s response to the process then.

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