Unfair Competition? EU Takes on German Green Energy Law
The European Commission plans to launch a probe this Wednesday into Germany's renewable energy law. Brussels says it breaches EU competition law because it exempts many companies from charges levied to fund green subsidies.
The European Commission plans to open proceedings on Wednesday against Germany's renewable energy law on the grounds that it breaches EU competition regulations.
The Commission plans to launch proceedings aimed not only at banning such exemptions in the future, but also requiring companies to repay the charges they were exempted from in the past.
Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger even called the entire renewable energy law into question in remarks to a conference hosted by German energy company E.on last week.
Too Many Exemptions?
Oettinger said many provisions in the law appeared to be in breach of EU single market rules and competition law. For example, he said, it wasn't acceptable that Germay subsidizes its own wind power but makes no subsidies available to operators from Denmark and Norway that deliver windpower to Germany.
On Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Brussels had raised questions about the law and she reiterated her intention to amend it if she wins a third term in the September 22 election. The law was introduced over a decade ago, before Merkel came into office.
The charges have financed large incentives to renewable energy providers, triggering a boom in green power production. But they have also driven up the cost of electricity for users who have to pay the charge. "We urgently need an amendment to the renewable energy law," Merkel told ARD television.
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2013
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
Click on the links below for more information about DER SPIEGEL's history, how to subscribe or purchase the latest issue of the German-language edition in print or digital form or how to obtain rights to reprint SPIEGEL articles.
- Frequently Asked Questions: Everything You Need to Know about DER SPIEGEL
- Six Decades of Quality Journalism: The History of DER SPIEGEL
- A New Home in HafenCity: SPIEGEL's New Hamburg HQ
- Reprints: How To License SPIEGEL Articles