The UK’s Withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty Poses Risks for Energy Affordability and Security

By Professor David Collins, The City Law School

Scarcely covered by the mainstream media, this Thursday (22 Feb 2024) the UK announced the withdrawal from the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), following nine EU Member States, including G7 countries France, Germany and Italy.

Entering into force in 1998 and signed by the UK in 1994, the ECT is an international investment agreement (IIA) designed to encourage foreign direct investment in the energy sector by providing protection to foreign investors against excessive governmental interference, such as expropriation or the denial of justice in administrative or legal proceedings. The ECT has been perhaps the most significant of all the IIAs, spawning more investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) claims than any other single treaty and with it, a host of awards issued by ad hoc tribunals. By falling under the protection of the ECT, foreign investors were granted assurances that they could rely on international law rather than the unfamiliar and unstable legal systems in host countries. Investment in the energy sector is especially needful of stable and reliable legal protections because of the extended period between making an investment and achieving a return. Under the ECT, investors may seek compensation for the loss of their future profits, not merely sustained losses. Many of the investment projects facilitated by the ECT related to infrastructure privatization projects in former Soviet countries.

Very much a product of its time, the ECT faced growing criticism for its continued encouragement of investment into energy derived from fossil fuels, paying insufficient attention to the modern fixation on climate change mitigation via renewable sources. Announcing the UK’s withdrawal, the Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero stated that continued ECT membership was incompatible with the country’s transition towards Net Zero. With this justification in mind, the UK’s withdrawal from the ECT could not have come at a worse time; it was acknowledged recently that the true costs of the UK’s Net Zero transition were wildly understated – costing trillions of pounds more than had been reported to parliament. Government ministers were accused by former Chancellor of the Exchequer of being ‘systematically dishonest’ about the costs of the plans.

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City-EIAG Seminar

REBUILDING RELATIONS BETWEEN THE UK AND THE EU

A Security Cooperation Pact and Other Ideas for Strengthening the Relationship

City Law School

28 February 2024 at 6pm

The City Law School, City, University of London and the European and International Analysts Group (EIAG), supported by Henderson Chambers, invite you to a seminar to discuss a possible security pact between the UK and the EU and other ideas for strengthening the post-Brexit relationship.

A background paper to the seminar by Sir Julian King, and published by the EIAG, can be found here.

The world has changed since Brexit. Security and defence challenges have become more urgent and more diverse. Russia is waging a relentless war of conquest against Ukraine and there are grounds for uncertainty as to the long-term commitment of the United States to European defence. Add to that, increasing instability in the Middle East, spilling over into the interruption of the economically vital trade-route through Suez, and an increasingly aggressive international stance by the world’s authoritarian powers. Taking all this into account, the security situation in Europe is arguably more perilous than at any time since the end of World War II.

The UK and the EU face the same challenges, and could face them with more confidence together. With Brexit behind us, how should the UK set about re-framing its relationship with its neighbourhood, as one rooted in and justified by the reality of today’s challenges?

The seminar will explore the prospects for developing a new security pact between the UK and the EU, and other practical opportunities there may be for moving towards a closer and more structured relationship in the future.

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London Universities 14th Annual Maritime Law and Policy Postgraduate Research Conference

The London Universities Maritime Law and Policy Research Group (LUMLPG) provides a network of mutual support and a forum for the exchange and promotion of ideas and information on maritime law and policy. In this vein, the LUMLPG will hold its 14th annual place on Friday, 24 May 2024.

The conference brings together academics, postgraduate researchers, practitioners and other industry professionals to present their research, areas of work, and opinions. This is an opportunity to engage with an informed audience from various parts of the maritime sector.

This year’s conference will take place at the City Law School. The venue address is TLG11, The City Law School, Sebastian St, London EC1V 7HD.

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Beyond the Virus – Multidisciplinary and International Perspectives on Inequalities Raised by COVID-19

 

Dr Adrienne Yong & Dr Sabrina Germain, City Law School

Beyond the Virus book cover

Originally published on the Social & Legal Studies blog

In late 2020, after the world had endured several lockdowns due to the unprecedented spread of a novel deadly virus, COVID-19 was front and centre in the minds of many academics. Importantly, this was not limited to just those in the medical profession, nor just those interested in biomedical sciences. The pandemic and its effects were of academic interest to most disciplines, including law, politics and other social sciences. As sociolegal scholars with an interest in justice in healthcare (Germain) and immigration and intersectionality (Yong), the pandemic piqued our curiosity because of its impact on widening existing inequalities for some of the most vulnerable in society in range of different areas. With a burning desire to publish an edited collection that would be an important contribution to a burgeoning area of literature, we set off to harness the expertise of a wider group of authors, doing cutting edge work in areas that were not just about the medical effects of the virus itself.

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Will the UK’s proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism violate WTO law?

Professor David Collins, City Law School

Last week Jeremy Hunt, the UK Chancellor, announced that the UK would pursue implementation of its own Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). The EU adopted its own CBAM which is due to go into effect gradually over the next few years – it is currently in an information-gathering stage.

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NextGenerationEU: EU’s Trojan horse for a silent constitutional transition?

Christos Karetsos, City Law School

On the 2 October 2023 at City, University of London, Institute for the Study of European Laws (ISEL), Professor Peter L. Lindseth and Professor Päivi Leino-Sandberg presented their research project in progress, titled ‘‘Beyond ‘As If’ Constitutionalism: Revenue, Borrowing, and Spending in the New Regime of European Integration.’’ This blog post outlines the key ideas of the presentation and the discussion that followed.

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The Electronic Trade Documents Act is a Turning Point in the UK’s Digital Trade Strategy

David Collins

The Electronic Trade Documents Act 2023 (ETDA) went into force on 20 September 2023. Despite receiving little attention from the media, the ETDA is one of the most significant pieces of legislation enacted by the UK government in the field of digital trade. The ETDA enables the legal recognition of trade documents such as bills of lading and bills of exchange in electronic form which are deemed to have the same legal significance of their paper equivalent.

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The ‘sidelining’ of the European Parliament from the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC): TTC(s) as post-Democracy Divas or Disasters?

Professor Elaine Fahey, Institute for the Study of European Law, City Law School, City, University of London

The EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC)

Transatlantic Trade and Technology Council (TTC) has been set up quickly by the European Union (EU) with the US at the outset of the US Biden administration. It is not a trade negotiation and does not adhere to any specific Article 218 TFEU procedure, although it has many signature ‘EU’ characteristics. The TTC has high-minded goals to ‘solve’ global challenges on trade and technology with its most significant third country cooperating partner.  Yet it is notably not the only recent Council proposed by the EU- there is also a new EU-India Trade and Technology Council. These new Councils represent a new modus operandi for the EU to engage with ‘complex’ partners, comprising executive to executive engagement, meeting agency counterparts regularly in close groups in an era of EU trade policy deepening its stakeholder and civil society ambit overall. The TTC has a vast range of policy-making activities, traversing many areas of EU law.  Their precise selection and future is difficult to understand in EU regional trade and data policy, seemingly pivoting, like US trade law, to executive-led soft law.

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The Voice and the Right of Indigenous Peoples to Effective Participation

Amal Al-Qasem and Mauro Barelli

On 19th June, a bill that would establish a constitutional entity called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice (the Voice) was passed by the Australian Senate after the lower house’s approval a month earlier. The wording of the constitutional change will now be put to the Australian people in a referendum that will take place between October and December. If the referendum is successful, the Voice will be an enduring institution which will allow First Nations to make representations to the Parliament and the Executive on matters that concern them. Continue reading

Facebook/Meta Oversight Board: International and Regional Law Applications

Giulia Alves Maia

The Facebook / Meta Oversight Board (OB) is one of the most novel developments in law and governance in recent years. The Oversight Board has ignited a major debate about its character, form, operation, and effects. It has been modelled as a “Facebook Supreme Court”, and its structure and style of its reasoning, as well as its use of precedent, give the appearance that the OB operates in a similar way to a court. On 26 April 2023, City Law School hosted a hybrid event entitled The Facebook/Meta Oversight Board: International and Regional Law Applications to discussion these and other issues.

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