18.12.14

EU competition law: General Court confirms Commission's rejection of a complaint on the ground that national competition authority is already dealing with the case (T-201/11)

The General Court of the European Union  concluded in the case T-201/11 Si. mobil telekomunikakcijske storitve v Commission on 17 December 2014 that the Commission was entitled to reject a complaint when a national competition authority was already dealing with the case.
 
This is a landmark judgment as the decision represents the first interpretation of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition law laid down in Articles 81 [EC] and 82 [EC] (now Articles 101 and 102 TFEU) on that topic. One of the objectives of the Regulation is to ensure that cases are dealt with by the most appropriate authorities within the European Competition Network.
 

16.12.14

UK capacity market supervision: Ofgem opens investigation as it suspects submission of false information to auctionning authority

 
Ofgem, the UK Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, announced on 15 December 2014 that it has launched an investigation against UK Capacity Reserver Limited (UKCR) which is suspected of having submitted "false or misleading information to National Grid (the Delivery Body) regarding whether it had planning consent for some Capacity Market Units (CMUs)."
 

10.12.14

Completion of the Internal Energy Market and new governance process for 2030 strategy discussed at the Energy Council meeting of 9.12 (conclusions)

 
The Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (TTE) Council met on 9 December 2014 to discuss energy issues. The following matters were on the agenda:
  • policy debate on the follow-up to the 2030 climate and energy framework
  • completion of the internal energy market
  • policy debate on the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy
  • recent developments in the field of external energy relations, including with the US, Ukrain, Energy Community, Energy Charter Treaty, Mediteranean countries (among others).
  • indirect land-use change for biofuels (adoption of position at first reading on draft Directive on ILUC)
 
The two first points are reviewed below.

24.11.14

French law proposal on energy transition for green growth to be discussed by the Senate starting 9 February 2015

 
The law proposal on energy transition for green growth is currently going through the legislative procedure in France. While the lower house of the parliament, the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale), voted on the text on 14 October, the upper house, the Senate, will discuss the text starting on 9 February 2015. The debate in plenary session will follow the debates in committees, which will take place during the week of 19 January (Committee for Economic affairs and Committee for Sustainable Development). Committees will already hold a hearing with the minister in charge on 26 November 2014. The French Ministry of Ecology and Energy has confirmed now the date, during a press meeting on the 2014 Environmental Conference.
 
Once adopted, the new law is tabled to enter into force in late 2015.
 
For a review of the provisions of the law proposal, I refer to my article published by Energy and Climate webmagazine here (in Norwegian). 
 
Reference:
Dossier de presse, Organisation et enjeux de la Conférence Environnementale 2014, 24 November 2014.

21.11.14

IEA to launch assessment report of EU energy policies under 2030 targets on 1 December 2014

 
 
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has a long tradition for assessing the energy policies of IEA countries, including most recently the ones of the European Union. On 1 December, the IEA will release its latest review of the energy policies of the EU. Of particular interest are the recommendations the IEA will provide as to target achievement under the new 2030 climate and energy strategy adopted by the heads of state and government on 23 October 2014 (see analysis in previous post here).

16.11.14

"Resilience" as a new model for G20 countries' policy to better serve sustainable energy markets


Economic resilience to better serve energy markets and tackle climate change
 
In the aftermaths of a financial and budgetary crisis, faced with a slow economic recovery and forced to respond quickly to geopolitical and natural resources challenges of global character, the representatives from governments and central banks of the Group of the Twenty major economies (so-called G20) decided to put "resilience" at the heart of their action during their last meeting in Australia, 15-16 November 2014
"Strengthening the resilience of the global economy and stability of the financial system are crucial to sustaining growth and development." (para. 12) 
"Strong and resilient energy markets are critical to economic growth." (para. 17)

We should better get used to the concept of resilience, because it is now used extensively, lately by the newly appointed European Commission ("resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy") and now by the G20. Basically, it refers to the ability of complex systems like modern economies to recover and adapt when confronted with a shock or unexpected event. Inspired by mecanics, the phenomenon of resilience has been used extensively by economists (e.g. by Alan Greenspan) and has recently been extended to new fields, such as energy policy. What a resilient EU energy policy should be remains however to be defined in detail.
 
From an energy and environmental perspective, some keywords and commitments should be payed attention in the G20 conclusions. Notably, some actions are detailed and concrete, with short-term milestones. For example, the G20 calls for an improvement of the functioning of gas markets and energy collaboration, based on a series of principles. Similarly, energy efficiency is singled put with a 10 pages long Action Plan. The conclusions also contain positive signals ahead of  climate change negotiations, with mention of a legally binding commitment to be reached in 2015.

14.11.14

Joint buying of gas at EU level: good that the EU is giving up the idea of mandatory mechanism. Voluntary joint purchasing still discussed.

 
 
On 13 November 2014, media reported that EU Member States and the European Commission decided not to follow-up the proposal consisting in establishing a mandatory gas-purchasing body at EU level. This was confirmed by K.D. Borchardt, European Commission's director in charge of the internal energy market. The idea was proposed as part of the concept for Energy Union ahead of an EU summit on EU energy dependence in June. It was promoted by Donald Tusk, former Polish PM and forthcoming president of the European Council, but also relayed by the European Commission in its May 2014 Communication on a European Energy Security Strategy.
 
In a comment, I referred to the idea as an "EU contradiction". After receiving questions on that qualification, I hereafter give the reasons why.
 

12.11.14

EU Sanctions against Russia: Russian Companies take legal steps before the Court of Justice of the EU (press review)

The news came through the international press (e.g., in BloombergBusinessweek) which revealed last week that several Russian companies have started legal proceedings before the General Court of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The applications have been submitted to the Court in early October 2014, and challenge the EU sanctions adopted this year.
 
At least 6 Russian companies affected by the EU sanctions have taken the decision to sue the European Council: the oil Company Rosneft (T-715/14, submitted 9.10.2014), Gazprom Neft, and 4 banks under control of the Russian state (Sberbank in case T-732/14, VTB Bank in case T-734/14, Vnesheconombank in case T-737/14 and Prominvestbank in case T-739/14). The text of the applications is not available.