Eu commission investigates billions in compensation for coal companies

EU Commission reviews billions in compensation for coal companies

Rwe coal excavator near hambach. Photo: arthur konze.0

In brussel, there are doubts as to whether compensation payments for "foregone profits, which extend very far into the future" the minimum required by eu state aid "required by eu state aid law" required under eu state aid law

The question of how the sum of the planned compensation payments to energy companies for the decommissioning of lignite-fired power plants in germany actually comes about was raised several months ago by attorney roda verheyen: "4.35 billion euros for what?" in september, she wrote a guest article for the portal of the environmental organization greenpeace.

Now the eu commission also wants to investigate this question and on tuesday ied a "in-depth investigation" initiated. The compensation for the "early exit" from lignite-fired power generation must be limited to the minimum necessary, said margrethe vestager, vice president in charge of competition policy. "The information available to us so far does not allow us to confirm this with certainty. Therefore, we are initiating this review procedure."

2.6 billion for rwe, 1.75 billion for leag

2.6 billion euros have been earmarked as compensation for presumed lost profits and follow-up costs of the rwe group in the rhineland and 1.75 billion for equally presumed lost profits and follow-up costs of the leag group in the lausitz region.

Regardless of eu law, environmentalists are wondering anyway what such claims are based on, since the german government does not deny man-made climate change – chancellor angela merkel (cdu) even described it as "humanity challenge" – and thus also recognizes the harmfulness of coal combustion for the ecosystems as a fact. From this point of view, there is in any case no "early" phase-out will take place anyway, because according to current planning, it does not have to be completed until 2038.

Apart from this, however, the "public-law agreement on the reduction and termination of lignite-fired power generation in germany", which stipulates the compensation and which was approved by a majority of the bundestag on january 13. January, could also be inadmissible under eu law.

In any case, the eu commission now has "doubts whether the compensation of operators for lost profits, which extends very far into the future, can be regarded as the minimum required" – and thus also "the compatibility of the measure with eu state aid rules".

"Do the members of parliament actually decide on a contract that is permissible under eu state aid law??", lawyer verheyen had already asked this question almost half a year ago, when the discussion of the draft in the economic committee of the bundestag was imminent.

Warning against loss of design authority

Experts gave controversial assessment of the draft agreement. Lawyer dr. Cornelia ziehm argued against the treaty both on the basis of the climate protection obligations entered into by the german government and on the basis of democratic theory: if the treaty were approved, the german parliament would relinquish its authority to shape energy and climate policy and would become dependent on companies whose business model is based on the emission of greenhouse gases that are harmful to the climate.

In the end, the parties of the "black-red" government coalition voted in favor and the left-wing parliamentary group, bundnis 90.

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