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The Decommissioning of Lignite- and Coal-Fired Power Plants in the Commission’s State Aid Practice and the European Green Deal

Clemens Ziegler


Keywords: energy, fossil fuels, environmental law, (in)consistency, Green Deal

The article discusses the European Commission’s recent State aid practice regarding lignite- and coal-fired power plants and their decommissioning in the context of the European Green Deal. It is based on the Commission’s decisions regarding the Dutch Hemweg plant, the German coal- and lignite phase-out and the rescue- and restructuring aid in favour of the Romanian electricity producer Complexul Energetic Oltenia. The author considers that the Commission’s mentioned State aid practice is far from living up to the Commission’s binding commitments under the 8th environmental action programme. To ensure that no-one is left behind, as the Green Deal postulates, the author suggests strengthening the rights of interested parties in State aid proceedings and to give environmental NGOs the status of such an interested party, which would also enable them to bring direct actions before the EU Courts.
Keywords: energy; fossil fuels; environmental law; (in)consistency; Green Deal

Dr Clemens Ziegler, Rechtsanwalt (Germany), Attorney (New York), LLM (Georgetown University Law Center), is founding partner of the boutique law firm Ziegler State Aid AntiTrust (Ziegler SAAT) in Brussels. The author has been advising the following organisations who acted as complainants/interested parties in some of the mentioned proceedings concerning the State aid measures in Germany and Romania that are discussed in this piece: ClientEarth regarding hard coal in Germany and lignite in Romania and Bankwatch regarding lignite in Romania. For correspondence: <>.


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