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Extension of the State Aid Acquis under the Energy Community of South-East Europe in Case ECS-10/18 journal article

Davor Vuletić

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 20 (2021), Issue 1, Page 87 - 100

The State aid acquis has been spreading out of the EU through the enlargement process under the European Agreements and Stabilisation and Association Agreements. Moreover, the State aid acquis became a part of other international agreements such as the Treaty Establishing Energy Community in South East Europe (TEEC). Some legal theorists describe EU law as a ‘self-contained system’ whose application outside its original legal and institutional environment could be problematic. Moreover, if the principle of ‘monism’ is not applied, the process of ‘gradual approximation’ depends on the interpretation of the acquis role in the national legal system. Under these circumstances, agreements such as the TEEC serve as agents for practical implementation of the EU acquis within broader international law. This article addresses named challenges through the assessment of Case ECS-10/18 involving a guarantee for the construction of a power plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The article argues that the application of the EU State aid acquis in this case is missing sound legal and economic analysis. Ultimately, the full State aid control cannot be achieved, because the European Commission control and the Court of Justice of the European Union oversight are not available. Instead, general principles of international law apply, including countermeasures not immanent to the EU State aid acquis. Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina; Energy Community; electricity; extension; guarantee



State Aid Perspectives on the Coal-to-Clean Transition journal article

Report on the Conference held at the Club de Warande, Brussels, 14 November 2019

Juliette Delarue

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 19 (2020), Issue 1, Page 105 - 110

Alongside long-term political commitments and robust administrative planning, a successful decarbonisation of the energy sector requires supportive measures, of which some may qualify as State aid. For the ‘Coal-to-Clean Transition’ these may include: compensation for the closure of coal facilities; efforts to achieving a fair and just transition in regions hitherto dependent on coal mining or coal use; and adequate interventions to ensure security of electricity supply. The conference of 14 November 2019 highlighted that a precise scrutiny of State aid aspects of these politically-sensitive measures by the Commission is required to ensure certainty for Member States, operators and the general public alike. Keywords: Just transition; Capacity mechanisms; Compensations; Coal phase-out; Energy transition.


Legal Status and Legal Effects of the Commission’s State Aid Guidelines: journal article

The Case of the Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy (EEAG) (2014-2020)

Catherine Banet

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 19 (2020), Issue 2, Page 172 - 184

Looking at the practical case of the Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy (EEAG) (2014-2020) and implementation of them, this article intends to re-open the debate on the legal status of soft law instruments in EU State aid policy. It analyses the recent case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the manner the latter distinguishes between the legal force and the legal effects of the State aid guidelines, not only on the Commission, but also on third parties like Member States. The article puts in perspective the careful approach of the Court in not recognising the possible indirect effects of the guidelines on Member States or individuals with the procedural and structural changes in the adoption of the guidelines. With the implementation of the State Aid Modernisation, a circular process in three steps has been established between the adoption of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER), the new State aid guidelines and the proposals for new secondary legislation. In this process, the guidelines assume the function of a bridge, building on the binding principles enshrined in the GBER and preparing the revision of sectoral EU directives and regulations. With the upcoming revision of the GBER and the EEAG which is now scheduled for adoption in 2021, the same dynamic will most probably apply. The revision of the GBER and the EEAG will need to reflect the content of the newly adopted Clean Energy Package for All Europeans, but will also play a crucial role in preparing the grounds for amending relevant secondary legislation in line with the Commission’s European Green Deal Strategy. Keywords: EEAG 2014-2020, renewable energy, support schemes, GBER, legal force, legal effects


Is Hywind Tampen’s State Aid Approval a Kickstart for the Norwegian Offshore Wind Industry? · Decision 017/20/COL Hywind Tampen, EFTA Surveillance Authority · Annotation by Ignacio Herrera Anchustegui journal article

Annotation on Decision 017/20/COL of the EFTA Surveillance Authority of 11 March 2020 on the Hywind Tampen Project

Ignacio Herrera Anchustegui

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 19 (2020), Issue 2, Page 225 - 231

On 11 March 2020, the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) declared Norway’s measure to support the development of the world’s first medium-sized floating offshore wind turbine, Hywind Tampen, compatible with the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement. The measure consists of an investment grant of NOK 2,3 billion (equivalent to ca. €205 million) for the construction of this offshore wind farm, covering about 43% of the total costs of the project. The project seeks to reduce Norway’s carbon footprint and help it transition towards a more sustainable energy supply.


Applicability of the EU State Aid and Environmental Rules in the Nuclear Energy Sector · Case C‑594/18 P Republic of Austria v Commission ('Hinkley Point')· Annotation by Alicja Sikora journal article

Annotation on the Judgment of the Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) of 22 September 2020 in Case C‑594/18 P Republic of Austria v Commission

Alicja Sikora

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 19 (2020), Issue 4, Page 515 - 520

In its judgment of 22 September 2020 in Case C-594/18 P Austria v Commission (the Hinkley Point judgment), the Court of Justice addressed a number of issues pertaining to the applicability of the EU State aid and environmental rules to the nuclear energy projects under the Euratom Treaty. Although it is not strictly speaking revolutionary for the State aid regime, the Hinkley Point judgment significantly contributes to the wider development of Union law. First, it brings further clarity regarding the links between the Euratom Treaty and the other Treaties on which the Union is founded. Secondly, it addresses a long-standing issue of relationship between the environmental protection and the objective of safeguarding trade and competition within the internal market, even though without bringing a clear-cut definitive answer to all related questions.


The European Green Deal and State Aid: journal article

The Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy Towards the Future

Steven Verschuur, Cecilia Sbrolli

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 19 (2020), Issue 3, Page 284 - 289

The European Green Deal is the prelude and the foundation of a daunting, but necessary, environmental-centric industrial revolution. EU legislation has obviously dealt with environmental policies in the past, but the European Green Deal is a far-reaching project that will require unprecedented investments. The transition envisioned in the European Green Deal will also require amendments to a wide variety of existing EU legislation and policies, including in the field of State aid. The Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy (EEAG), in force until the end of 2021, are the legal framework in force to assess environmental State aid. This raises the question whether these Guidelines are a suitable instrument to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal. This paper is the first of a series that will discuss the interplay between existing State aid rules and policy on the one hand and the European Green Deal on the other. It will provide a broader introduction to the European Green Deal and its envisaged means of financing and will discuss the application of the incentive effect to the State aid assessment of national support measures to achieve objectives of the European Green Deal. Keywords: EU Green Deal, Environmental and Energy Guidelines, incentive effect, environmental targets, financing



Support for Services in the Lithuanian Electricity Sector · Case C-706/17 Achema · Annotation by Lina Barauskaitė journal article

Annotation on the preliminary ruling of the Court of Justice (Fourth Chamber) of 15 May 2019 in Case C-706/17 AB Achema, AB Orlen Lietuva and AB Lifosa v Valstybinė kainų ir energetikos kontrolės komisija, Lietuvos Respublikos energetikos ministerija, UAB Baltpool

Lina Barauskaitė

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 18 (2019), Issue 3, Page 352 - 358

On 15 May 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU or the Court) rendered a landmark state aid preliminary ruling where it assessed the Lithuanian public interest services (PIS) support measure provided to certain Lithuanian electricity producers. The measure was never notified to the European Commission and was subject to number of court disputes at the national level. The ruling confirms that the PIS support in the electricity sector constitutes State aid. In particular, the Court confirms that PIS funds can be regarded as State resources, since their life cycle (collection, administration and distribution) are strictly regulated and remains under the control of the Lithuanian State. PIS funds are also intended to finance certain services in the electricity sector, constituting a selective advantage. Moreover, due to characteristics of the Lithuanian electricity market, such as existing interconnectors and European Union electricity market liberalisation, PIS scheme is also liable to affect trade between the Member States and distort competition. Finally, the Court also expressed its doubts whether PIS should be defined as service of general economic interest (SGEI). According to the Court, the requirements for SGEI existence are not met. Keywords: Energy; Electricity; State resources; Imputability; Effect on trade; Distortion of competition; SGEI.


State Resources Doctrine Rebooted · Case C‑405/16 P Federal Republic of Germany v European Commission (EEG) · Annotation by Theodoros Iliopoulos journal article

Annotation on the Judgment of the Court of Justice (Third Chamber) of 28 March 2019 in Case C‑405/16 P Federal Republic of Germany v European Commission (EEG).

Theodoros G. Iliopoulos

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 18 (2019), Issue 4, Page 555 - 560

The judgment in the Case C-405/16 P has culminated the struggle between Germany and the Commission over the German law for the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources. Germany has argued that the legislation at issue followed the PreussenElektra model and does not constitute State aid, while the Commission and the General Court have adopted the opposite stance. In March 2019, the Court of Justice judgment in appeal held that there was no State aid involved and set aside the General Court judgment. Thus, a restrictive interpretation of the obfuscated ‘State resources’ criterion was reinstated, which takes State aid law theory back to its roots and makes the PreussenElektra doctrine actual again. The judgment can to a large extent shape how State aid law will apply in the next years and determine the possibility of Member States to circumvent the State aid law restrictions when enacting measures for the promotion of renewable energy sources, but also for other policy objectives. Keywords: State resources criterion; Support schemes for renewable energy sources; Feed-in and premium tariffs; EEG 2012.