EU General Court Approves Commission Power Grab

The Third Chamber of the General Court of the European Union has ruled on the action Germany brought against the Commission power grab. They agree with the Commission view that the 2012 version German feed-in tariff is “State Aid”. That in turn gives the Commission the power to make all sorts of demands on the German legislation.

I won’t discuss the reasons for that Court decision in detail. Essentially they explain in much detail that the 2012 system is different from the one ruled not to be “State Aid” in the PreussenElektra case.

Obviously it is completely unacceptable to give the Commission the power to veto German legislation on renewable energy. This is incompatible with basic values of democracy.

There are two ways to deal with this sad state of affairs.

One would be to appeal the decision. Maybe the European Court of Justice takes a different view.

That line of action depends on the views of whatever judges would decide on that appeal.

The other one would be to analyze the decision and change the system in a way that the facts the Court relied on for its ruling disappear. Revert to something closer to the facts of the PreussenElektra case.

The nice thing about this alternative is that it can be done unilaterally. There is no need to hope for wiser judges.

For example, Germany could keep up the feed-in tariffs and completely drop the surcharge system, leaving it to the market to work that part out. The misguided move to an auction system seems to indicate that the German government wants more market-based rules. Fine. Get more market-based rules by abolishing the surcharge system.

As I pointed out before, there are no legitimate interests served by limiting the liberty of Germany to implement renewable energy support schemes, including feed-in tariffs. That can only work to help the competition of renewable energy (coal and gas).

There is no need to help coal and gas stay longer in business. On the contrary, there is an urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions from dirty electricity generation.

That said, congratulations to the EU Commission on winning their case. And congratulations also for helping Germany achieve the stellar record of reducing investment in renewable energy in 2015 by a whopping 46% compared to 2014. If your agenda is to help the coal and gas industry, you are doing a great job there.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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