German Government on Almunia Power Grab Attempt

Feb 19 2014 Published by under European and German energy law

Two days ago I blogged about the latest draft EU guidelines on state aid in the energy sector. I didn’t find a discussion of the question why the EU Commission has any competence to decide on German renewable energy policy in those draft guidelines. And I stated my firm opposition to the idea that the Commission may be able to decide on these issues.

I got some mixed reactions. One guy rather lacking in manners called me a “Japanese clown that can’t read” over the issue (link to that person omitted on purpose).

At the time I missed a release by the German Government on this.

It turns out that the German Government shares my concerns. From their announcement:

Ferner ist zu betonen, dass die EU nur eingeschränkte Kompetenzen in der Energiepolitik besitzt. EU-rechtliche Vorgaben für nationale energiepolitische Entscheidungen sind im Einklang mit dem europäischen Primärrecht im Rahmen eines ordentlichen bzw. besonderen Gesetzgebungsverfahrens unter Einbeziehung der nationalen Parlamente und Regierungen durch den Ministerrat und das Europäische Parlament zu etablieren. Dabei müssen sie die Kompetenz der Mitgliedstaaten, die Bedingungen für die Nutzung ihrer Energieressourcen, ihre Wahl zwischen verschiedenen Energiequellen und die allgemeine Struktur ihrer Energieversorgung selbst zu bestimmen, respektieren. Der Leitlinienentwurf hingegen will Einfluss auf sehr wichtige energiepolitische Detailfragen nehmen, was kritisch zu hinterfragen sein wird.

Furthermore, it needs stressing that the EU has only limited competences in the field of energy policy. Any requirements in EU law for national energy policy decisions need to be established in a ordinary or special legislation procedure that includes national Parliaments, and Governments over the Council, and the European Parliament. Such legislation must respect the competence of the Member States to determine the conditions for exploiting their energy resources, their choice between different energy sources and the general structure of their energy supply. The draft guidelines in contrast attempt to influence very important details of energy policy. It will be necessary to ask critical questions about this (my translation).

If the EU Commission insists and the German Government sticks to the above sensible position, both the European Court of Justice and the German Federal Constitutional Court may have to decide about the legality of this power grab.

The German Government is also critical of the substance of the draft guidelines. They say that it is too early for transiting to an auction model immediately.

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