Berlin and Brussels clashed over Germany’s green energy law on Thursday (3 July), with Chancellor Angela Merkel reacting angrily to suggestions from Europe’s competition chief that Germany had not done enough to comply with European rules.
A ruling from the EU’s highest court on Tuesday (1 July) raised hopes in Germany that its revamped renewables legislation – which aims in part to shelter heavy industry from the cost of funding green energy – was already in line with EU law.
But EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia said that was not the case, because imported energy would not be treated in the same way as domestically-produced fuel.
“Imported electricity cannot be given discriminatory treatment,” Almunia told reporters. “We need to find with the German authorities a good way to eliminate our concerns.”
Merkel hit back, saying the Commission had created a degree of insecurity, which she would fight “with all [her] power”.
The Commission should show understanding of Germany’s difficulties as it seeks to reform a 15-year-old subsidy system and bring it more into line with markets, she told a meeting of her Christian Democrat party’s economy committee in Berlin.
The European Commission, the EU executive, announced late last year it was launching a full investigation of Germany’s renewables law.
That inquiry is likely to be lengthy and Almunia said he had not ruled out that German industry would have to pay back subsidies it received under the old regime, although he did not give any figures.
Finding a solution to the Commission’s problems with the revised German green energy law should be quicker.
Almunia said it was possible that could be achieved before the Commission’s summer break, which begins on Aug. 1, but he added: “It’s not in my hands.”
Source: EurActiv, 2014