The Commission has adopted a proposal for a Council and Commission Decision on the ratification, by the European Communities, of the Energy Charter Treaty and the Energy Charter Protocol on energy efficiency and related environmental aspects. Ratification by the European Communities of the Treaty and the Protocol will be an important step in the development of cooperation with the Central and Eastern European countries and with the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It will also consolidate the central role of the EU by allowing it to participate fully in the implementation of these international agreements. The Treaty and the Protocol were signed by the European Communities and the Member States, in Lisbon, Portugal, on 17 December 1994. A total of 50 States and organizations signed the two agreements. The European Communities and the Member States have been applying the Energy Charter Treaty provisionally pending its entry into force. Pending a decision by the Energy Charter Conference at on the seat of the Charter Secretariat, the Commission has also decided to allocate to the Secretariat a reimbursable cash advance of ECU 1 million for the last quarter of 1995. This sum should enable the Charter Secretariat to be established independently and to operate satisfactorily until the end of the year. This advance will be reimbursed on the basis of the contributions paid by the Treaty signatories and in accordance with arrangements to be agreed in advance with the Charter Secretariat.