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German 2012 energy law involved state aid: EU Court

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German 2012 energy law involved state aid: EU Court

Justice - Photo © Yanchenko - Fotolia

(LUXEMBOURG) - The European Court of Justice's General Court confirmed Tuesday that a 2012 German law on renewable energy involved State aid, dismissing Germany's action against the Commission.

The court dismissed the action, which had been brought by Germany against a Commission decision by which it classified as State aid (a) the support for undertakings producing electricity from renewable energy sources (aid which the Commission nevertheless approved) and (b) the reduction in the EEG surcharge for certain electricity-intensive undertakings (aid which it for the most part approved).

Germany had contested the Commission’s finding that the German law on renewable energy of 2012 (the EEG 2012) involved State aid, even though the Commission, ultimately, largely approved the aid.

The EEG 2012 laid down a scheme to support undertakings producing electricity from renewable energy sources and mine gas (‘EEG electricity’). That law thus guaranteed those producers a price higher than the market price. In order to finance that support measure, it imposed an ‘EEG surcharge’ on the suppliers to the final customers, which in practice was passed on to the final customers.

However, certain undertakings, such as electricity-intensive undertakings in the manufacturing sector (‘EIUs’), were eligible for a cap on that (passed on) surcharge in order to maintain their international competitiveness. The EEG surcharge was payable to the interregional operators of high and very-high-voltage transmission systems (TSOs), which were obliged to sell the EEG electricity.

In its decision of 25 November 2014,5 the Commission found that, although the support laid down by the EEG 2012 for undertakings producing electricity from renewable energy sources constituted State aid, that aid was, however, compatible with EU law. It also classified the reduction in the EEG surcharge for electricity-intensive undertakings as State aid. Since it took the view that those reductions were for the most part compatible with EU law, it ordered recovery in respect of a limited part of the reductions only.

T-47/15 - Germany v Commission, Documents and main proceedings, European Court of Justice


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