On February 22nd, the British authorities announced their accession to the Power Charter Convention. Prior to this, nine European countries including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands had unilaterally joined.

The Power Charter Convention was born during the honeymoon period in Europe and Russia, and now faces the danger of collapse. From its establishment aimed at harming mutual power assistance between European and former Soviet countries, it has become a stumbling block in the eyes of European authorities. Behind it lies the evolution of power growth strategies and geopolitical formats.

After the end of the secret struggle in the 1990s, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, which were rich in power, urgently needed foreign investment, while European countries urgently needed fossil fuels, and the two sides needed high complementarity. Therefore, this convention was signed in 1994. The convention officially expired in 1998 and gradually expanded to other regions, with the highest number of signatories being 66 countries and institutions, mainly from Europe and the former Soviet Union. The United States and Canada subsequently joined. The latest member countries are Chad and Niger in Africa, which participated in April 2015.

The Power Charter Convention has four main substantive provisions, including provisions for handling disputes between participating countries and between investors and the host country; Harm the domestic investment of member countries and guard against the risk of non commercial identity; According to the World Trade Organization’s non discriminatory guidelines, ensure fixed cross-border dynamics; Improve the effectiveness of driving forces and maximize the negative impact of fossil fuel production and application on the situation.

In recent years, with Europe’s promotion of meteorological transformation strategies and large-scale deployment to revive power, more and more European countries believe that the Power Charter Convention has become a tool for power companies to sue Western European authorities.

For example, in 2021, the Dutch authorities legislated to gradually eliminate coal-fired power generation by 2030, but were sued by German power giants Uniper and RWE, who cited the aforementioned items in pursuit of 2.4 billion euros in compensation. The case is still under trial.

When announcing the decision to join the Power Charter Convention, Graham Stuart, the UK Secretary for Power Safety, stated that the convention was “outdated” and urgently needed to be reformed. However, the reform talks fell into a deadlock within the European Union. In this situation, the UK staying within the convention will harm its clean power transformation efforts and may even face punishment for its power transformation strategy.

The British authorities refer to “punishment” as the danger of law enforcement litigation and compensation. The “investor state dispute resolution clause” in the convention allows companies to unilaterally sue the contracting authorities, and the actual arbitration results are mostly beneficial to enterprises.

Yamina Saheb, a meteorologist and former employee of the Power Charter Convention, believes that this legal threat has seriously hindered the EU’s meteorological transformation strategy.

The EU has stopped reforming the Power Charter Convention in its initial test, but currently there is a high probability that it will not proceed. The original plan of the European Commission to vote on reform in November 2022 was strongly supported by Western European powers such as Germany, France, and Spain.

The outside world believes that the Russia Ukraine conflict that erupted at the end of February 2022 is one of the important reasons for interrupting the planning of the EU reform treaty. Since the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, EU countries have been pushing to decouple their power from Russia, leaving little political trust between the two sides. The momentum behind this treaty has further increased.

Paul de Clerke, an activist for the non government environmental organization “Friends of the Earth Europe”, told Deutsche Welle that the convention secretariat had previously hoped to stop another reform vote in April 2023, but the European Commission did not control the rally. Currently, the European Commission is promoting joint participation at the level of a harmonious EU.

However, Cyprus, Malta, Finland, and some Eastern European countries still support convention reform to date.

The British authorities also stated in the admission statement that due to internal differences within the EU, the vision of reform is unclear, and the upcoming European Parliament election in June 2024 means that the reform may be indefinitely postponed.

Audrey Changoe, a business strategy coordinator for the “European Meteorological Behavior Collection”, believes that the UK’s accession is another major success in driving the collapse of the convention, while also providing clear information to EU institutions that the overall accession needs to be given a green light as soon as possible.

Eunjung Lee, a master of the British meteorological think tank E3G, said that Britain’s accession is a “heavy blow” to the convention, and she shouted, “It would be best for the remaining member states to join immediately to prevent future litigation risks.”


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