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The Spanish Hydroelectric Tax: Asymmetrical Taxation with Environmental Flavour · Joined Cases C-105/18 to C-113/18 UNESA · Annotation by Begoña Pérez Bernabeu

Annotation on the Judgment of the Court (Fifth Chamber) of 7 November 2019 in Joined Cases C-105/18 to C-113/18 UNESA

Begoña Pérez Bernabeu


Keywords: asymmetrical taxation, environmental taxation, electricity producers, non-liability, reference framework method, Spain

The Spanish tax Canon por la utilización de aguas continentales para la producción de energía eléctrica -guided by a (called into question) environmental objective- taxes only a kind of electricity producers (hydroelectric producers using inland waters located in the territory of more than one autonomous community) on the basis on the environmental damage they cause employing the inland water. In contrast, hydroelectricity producers operating within river basins encompassing a single autonomous community, the rest of electricity producers whose source of electricity production is other than water (which are both direct competitors) and even all the installations which use water for purposes other than the production of hydroelectricity are not liable to the tax. The Spanish Supreme Court referred the matter to the Court of Justice on for a preliminary ruling. However, the Court of Justice conducted a misguided analysis of selectivity through the reference framework method and concluded the inexistence of selectivity and, hence, of State aid.

Begoña Pérez Bernabeu, Tax Law Professor, University of Alicante (Spain). For correspondence: <>.


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