Wednesday

23rd Oct 2019

Alarm over EU proposal to cut loose renewable energy firms

  • The commission says its time to phase out state aid to renewable energy producers (Photo: David Huang)

European Commission proposals on Wednesday (9 April) to phase out subsidies for renewable energy producers have met with accusations of a "corporate capture" of EU policymaking.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the subsidies, partly paid through levies on big energy intensive industries, are distorting the internal energy market and increasing consumer costs.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“Our objective now is to ensure renewable support is sustainable by gradually integrating the electricity generated through renewables into the market,” he said.

Almunia described the larger solar and wind energy sectors as mature enough to enter the open market.

“It is time that these technologies respond to market signals and that public support is allocated through a competitive process,” he said.

The six-year plan or the so-called energy and environmental state guidelines kicks off in July, replacing existing 2008 rules.

The guidelines were adopted a day after Germany’s government passed legislation to scale back its renewable energy ambitions in an effort to stem rising electricity prices.

Almunia’s plan drops to a fraction, if member states want to, the surcharges on energy intensive industries. The money is used to help prop up renewables.

Burdened by the contributions, Almunia says some of the companies face stiff international competition and risk moving their activities outside Europe.

For his part, Luxembourg Green MEP Claude Turmes says such companies account for 15 to 20 percent of all electricity consumed in Europe but will only have to pay 1.5 percent of the total bill of the transition towards cleaner energy targets.

“This is going away from the polluters pay principle and introducing, the more you pollute, the bigger the gifts you get from government,” he noted.

Turmes said the guidelines had been “hijacked” by Business Europe, a trade association representing the largest corporations in Europe and by the pan-Euro association of electricity producers, Eurelectric.

He accused the EU commissioners for energy, transport, budget, and commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for siding with Business Europe to drop the subsidy levies on big business.

“What is happening with Barroso II is corporate capture as I have never seen it in the last 15 years I have been Brussels,” he said.

He said Almunia should be focussing, as competition commissioner, on the unfair market advantages given to the EU’s coal, gas and nuclear industries instead of undermining the growing green energy sector.

Almunia’s guidelines also call for other changes.

They mean that from 2016 onwards, renewable energy companies will have to shift from a fixed-tariff rate to feed-in premiums.

A year later, they will be required to enter a competitive bidding process in order to receive any aid.

Both are said to create risks and uncertainties that are likely to off put investors and slow down the overall production of green energy in favour of coal and nuclear industries.

The guidelines exempt small installations or technologies at an early stage of development.

Turmes is not alone in voicing criticism.

Brussels-based Climate Action Network Europe, a coalition working on climate and energy issues, said the new EU rules “favour large scale, incumbent, traditional fossil-fuel based energy producers.”

In a rare move, Almunia’s proposal was also voted on by the roundtable of European commissioners on Wednesday.

Almunia said three commissioners abstained. One commissioner voted against.

Green groups unhappy with EU climate proposals

The European Commission’s latest climate proposals fall short of the mark, say pro-green groups, following a UN report, which warned of irreversible consequences of a warming planet.

Opinion

Massive EU gas investment a mistake

Europe's massive investment plan – some €200 billion – in gas-related infrastructure is a huge misstep that does not address the challenge of Europe's energy demands or climate change commitments.

EU leaders spent just 12 minutes on climate

Climate change was part of the agenda of the EU leaders for Friday's summit. However, the council decided to finalise the EUʼs long-term strategy on climate change at its next meeting in December.

Investigation

EU proposes pesticide ban, but key documents still secret

Time is running out for chlorpyrifos, the pesticide which is a cause of brain damage to human fetuses and newly-born children. The EU Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have both stated approval should not be renewed.

Timmermans to end EU climate 'contradictions'

Fossil fuel subsidies should end and there is "no future in coal", the EU's would-be green commissioner, Frans Timmermans, has said in his pledge to make the EU carob neutral.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs criticise Juncker over climate and tax policies
  2. Juncker defends commission record on Greek crisis
  3. Croatian MEP criticises EU parliament for trusting Šuica
  4. Brexit is waste of time and energy, says Juncker
  5. Abortion and same-sex marriage become legal in Northern Ireland
  6. Germany wants internationally controlled zone in Syria
  7. EU parliament refuses to debate Catalonia
  8. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. EU open to imminent Brexit extension, Tusk indicates
  2. EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues
  3. MPs vote on Johnson's latest push for Brexit deal
  4. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  5. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  6. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  7. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  8. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us