A legal challenge against subsidies for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant has been thrown out by the European Union’s second highest court. The General Court of the European Union rejected claims by Austria that the deal for the £20 billion Somerset plant constituted illegal state aid. Hinkley Point got the go-ahead from the government in 2016, having gained state aid clearance from the European Commission in 2014 for the terms of the subsidy contract. It will be Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation and is expected to provide about 7 per cent of the country’s electricity needs from 2025. Campaigners against the project had pinned their hopes on the Austrian legal challenge as one of the last remaining ways of killing off the project. However, the court upheld the commission’s original approval of the contract, which concluded that it was compatible with the rules of the single market and necessary “to attain, in good time, the objective of creating new nuclear energy-generating capacity”. Austria had argued that the promotion of nuclear energy was not an objective of common interest, but the court found that Britain was entitled to deem it as a public interest objective, even if it was not shared by all member states. “Each member state has the right to choose between the different energy sources those which it prefers,” the court said.
Times 13th July 2018 read more »
EU judges have upheld a decision allowing the UK government to subsidise nuclear facilities at the new Hinkley Point power station after Austria said the ruling breached EU state aid rules. Brussels General Court on Thursday said the European Commission’s 2014 decision to allow the British government to spend £16bn to build its first nuclear power plant in a generation did not violate the rules of the single market.
FT 12th July 2018 read more »
BBC 12th July 2018 read more »
EU Business 12th July 2018 read more »
World Nuclear News 12th July 2018 read more »
The General Court confirms the decision by which the Commission approved the aid provided by the UK in favour of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
European Court 12th July 2018 read more »
Hinkley Point C: Why is the Austrian government challenging the new nuclear power station? A verdict on the European Commission decision to approve a Hinkley Point subsidy deal in 2014 will be delivered by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) tomorrow (Thursday 12 July), responding to a challenge brought forward by the Austrian government in 2015. Should the decision to approve the nuclear power station project owned and backed by French utilities giant EDF Energy and the China General Nuclear (CGN) group be revoked by the court, it is unclear what will happen to the project post-Brexit.
Compelo 11th July 2018 read more »
Government bungs for random industries can distort competition. So how nice to see Britain’s freshly minted Brexit white paper taking such a “rigorous” line on state aid. None of that wilder Brexiteer baloney about freedoms to prop up any has-been industry we like and two fingers to Brussels. Theresa May is committed “to a common rulebook on state aid”, with Britain choosing to “maintain a robust state aid regime into its future economic relationship with the EU”. And how robust is that? Well, as luck would have it, the EU courts produced a ruling only yesterday, clarifying the rigours of the present system, all thanks to Austria launching a legal challenge over some £20 billion project in Britain. It’s one that’s attracted a fair bit of government backing, too, at least to judge by two reports this time last year. They found that total subsidies could add up to anywhere b etween £30 billion and £50 billion. Not figures from bonkers think tanks, either, but respectively the National Audit Office and the government’s own “whole life” project experts. The scheme in question? Hinkley Point C, of course, the 3,200MW nuclear plant being built by France’s EDF and China’s CGN. Austria objected on three grounds. First, that Britain was guaranteeing to buy energy from the plant for 35 years at £92.50 per megawatt hour, index-linked from 2012 – or twice today’s wholesale price. Second, that the government has undertaken to compensate the developers “in the event of an early shutdown on political grounds”. Third, that the UK was happy to underwrite project debt, via credit guarantees on bond issues, up to a total £17 billion. And guess what? None of that remotely counts as state aid. No, the EU’s general court has just slapped down Austria for bringing its complaint, arguing that “aid is necessary in order to attain, in good time, the objective of creating nuclear energy generating capacity” (report, page 47). Yes, just don’t call it state aid.
Times 13th July 2018 read more »