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RENEWABLE ENERGY : JAASKINEN: FRENCH WIND TARIFFS AMOUNT TO STATE AID.

If the EU Court of Justice follows the conclusions of Advocate-General Niilo Jaaskinen, delivered on 11 July, the French state will have to reimburse wind energy producers for additional costs, or at least the interest linked to these amounts - a decision which is down to national judges. The rate at which EDF (Electricite de France) buys wind energy constitutes state aid, and should therefore have been notified to the European Commission, said the advocate-general, responding to questions from the French state after a request for the anulment of a financing mechanism from the anti-wind energy collective Vent de Colere! in 2008.

In his opinion, Jaaskinen proposes that the court should find that the financing mechanism put in place by the amended French legislation falls within the concept of aid granted by the state or through state resources. The system established by the amended law No 2000-108 introduces a tax on the consumption of electricity, which is supported by a general contribution according to the rules set in a uniform manner by the state, which affects all electricity consumers on national territory. The configuration of this contribution entirely excludes its qualification as a measure limited to a category of companies, to be imposed, administered and monitored by private operators, he said. He also referred to the "open" nature of French law, unlike other systems that he qualifies as "closed" in the sense that the amounts never leave the private sector, such as in the German sytem, which obliges private companies to purchase renewable energies (the subject of the Preussen Elektra ruling in 2001). The main difference between the present case and the Preussen Elektra case, continues the advocate-general, is that the responsibility for financing the obligation to purchase wind energy at a higher price than that of the market applies to all consumers of electricity in France, irrespective of whether or not they purchase green energy, knowing that, on a liberalised electricity market, whose completion is one of the main objectives of the Union, there is competition between producers and providers of energy.

Since the court considers that the rate of purchase, supported by contributions from the CSPE (Contribution to the Public Electricity Service), does indeed constitute state aid, the French government has asked the court to "limit in time the effects of this ruling". The advocate-general, however, has rejected this. If the rate represents state aid, he said, the government should have notified the Commission (under Article 108.3 TFEU). Even if the Commission decides in future to give the green light to this aid, this decision, underlines the advocate-general, will not settle, a posteriori, acts of execution.

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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Jul 26, 2013
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