The traffic light coalition wants to get out of a controversial international energy agreement in order to advance climate protection. Members of the Bundestag from the SPD, Greens and FDP announced on Friday that the plan is to withdraw quickly from the so-called Energy Charter, like France or the Netherlands.
The agreement, which came into force in 1998, is intended to protect investments in energy projects and has long been criticized by environmental organizations. It allows investors, for example, to sue states before arbitral tribunals. Green parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge praised the current step as a "milestone".
At the same time, members of parliament from the government factions agreed to ratify the European-Canadian free trade agreement Ceta quickly. The corresponding law is to be drafted in the Bundestag session week beginning on November 28th.
The two issues are apparently a compromise by the coalition: FDP circles have said that the exit from the Energy Charter is part of an overall agreement to achieve Ceta ratification. The Greens were previously critical here.
The EU actually wanted to work to reform the Energy Charter. The coalition agreement also states: "We are committed to reforming the Energy Charter Treaty." However, the result of the negotiations did not sufficiently meet expectations, said MPs Verena Hubertz (SPD), Andreas Audretsch (Greens) and Lukas Köhler (FDP). This is also due to an insufficient negotiating mandate from the EU Commission.
Green parliamentary group leader Dröge told the German Press Agency: "No other international trade or investment agreement in the world has triggered more investor lawsuits than the Energy Charter Treaty." That is also a good sign against the background of the world climate conference. "This contract is an obstacle to the energy transition and costs the state billions."
Corporations demanded "horrendous" compensation
Dröge said corporations are using the charter to challenge oil drilling bans, pipeline refusals, fossil fuel taxes and coal phase-out decisions, and to sue for "horrendous amounts of compensation." "The contract was also the basis for lawsuits against the German nuclear phase-out or the Dutch coal phase-out." It is logical to follow countries such as the Netherlands, France, Poland, Spain and Italy with this step.
The government factions also agreed on steps for further developing German trade policy. MEPs are working to ensure that the EU quickly concludes trade agreements with Chile and Mexico. In addition, the EU should explore whether the US government is ready to negotiate a new attempt at a trade agreement after the failure of the TTIP agreement. In view of the geopolitical situation in particular, Germany and Europe should position themselves more broadly, strengthen partnerships and reduce political dependencies on individual countries, according to the joint declaration. "We want to intensify cooperation and trade, especially with countries with which we share fundamental values of liberal democracy."
Against the background of the Russian war against Ukraine and the growing tensions with China, Germany is trying to position itself more broadly economically. Economics Minister Robert Habeck said that the German export and import strategy should be diversified. "Cluster risks" should be avoided or reduced. With investment guarantees, the government wants to create an incentive for companies not only to go to China, but also to other - for example Asian - countries.