Victory for Unions and Climate - EU Withdraws from Energy Charter Treaty! 

On 30 May, after years of campaigning by PSI affiliates and allies, Europe’s energy ministers formally accepted the EU Commision proposal to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty: an antiquated trade deal that has been repeatedly exploited by the fossil fuel industry to challenge governments' climate and energy policies.  

PSI's campaign against the ECT has helped shape the global labour position and grow public awareness about these toxic trade deals. Our “Busting the myths around the ECT Guide,” published in the lead up to ECT conference, helped unions confront the false claims of corporate lobbyists and push many governments to withdraw from the treaty. 

Danny Bertossa, PSI General Secretary said: 

"Public services, workers and the climate will all be better off now that this toxic trade deal has finally been abandoned by the EU. This victory is a testament to the tireless efforts of trade unions and climate justice campaigners working together. For too long our governments have signed on to trade deals that serve the interests of corporate polluters at the expense of the climate and the public interest. Such climate-damaging agreements belong in the dust-bin of history.” 

The ECT contains strong investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions: a controversial mechanism that allows fossil fuel companies to sue governments in private international courts in cases where the adoption of any action that impacts their profits, including climate mitigation policies or policies that provide universal access to energy. 

Around the world PSI and our affiliates have been instrumental in building the case against ISDS. In Australia, PSI was invited to appear between a parliamentary inquiry on ISDS and our contributions are quoted throughout the Committee’s final report which recommends the government exclude ISDS from its trade and Investment Agreements. The committee also recommend that legislation be adopted to enable parliamentary oversight of trade negotiations; that human rights, labour and environment chapters be included; that independent impact assessments be conducted and that further consultations on digital trade rules be conducted to ensure the ability of governments to regulate in the public interest is not limited. 

Our campaigning with unions in Equador helped influence public opinion surrounding a recent referendum on ISDS which voters overwhelmingly opposed. PSI research also revealed how over forty corporate sponsors of the World Economic Forum are actively involved in ISDS cases against governments, blocking progressive policy such as environmental protections, public health measures and attempts to make electricity more affordable. 

Daniel Obeko, PSI Regional Secretary for Africa and Arab Speaking Countries said: 

"The EU exit from the ECT is victory for all workers. From Morocco to Nigeria, PSI affiliates in Africa and the MENA region knew the ECT was detrimental to public sector workers, public services, and undermines the sovereignty of States to implement policies of national interest. We shall continue to engage Nigeria where the process has halted, to also exit completely"

The exit of the EU from the ECT leaves the trade agreement dead in the water.  

PSI calls on all remaining signatories to abandon the ECT and all other agreements with ISDS provisions once and for all. 

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