Decision to save nuclear power open to legal challenge

8 October 2014

Friends of the Earth preparing legal action against approval of UK state aid for nuclear power plant

The European Commission today decided that the UK's funding of Électricité de France (EdF) to build Hinkley Point C, a nuclear power station in Somerset, was not in breach of state aid rules. This decision by the out-going Commission, just weeks before its term ends on 31 October, seemingly contradicts the Commission´s own assessments of the situation on 7 March this year. At the time, the Commission stated that: "...the measure does not involve a genuine Service of General Economic Interest and favours an undertaking selectively, threatening to distort competition and affect trade between Member States" and "The Commission also has serious doubts on the need for State aid in relation to nuclear energy".

The European Commission's decision will likely face multiple legal challenges, according to Patricia Lorenz, nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe: "The outgoing Commission's intention to give this huge gift to EdF is not the end of the story. Civil society organisations, European national governments and competitors in the electricity market have already announced they will take legal action against this decision to guarantee 35 years of feed-in price for nuclear power."

Friends of the Earth Europe's Austrian member group, Global 2000, has consulted with lawyers to gain an overview over possible legal action and plan to challenge this decision by the European Commission in the European Court of Justice under the Commission's own Aarhus Regulation.

Commenting on the European Commission's decision, Reinhard Uhrig, nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth Austria / Global 2000 said: "In March 2013, the Commission severely interfered with member states' ability to support renewable energy production, and now they sit and watch while nuclear is saved with €19 billion. Their state aid guidelines on renewable energy force national governments to drastically cut their support. At a time when we urgently need to create space for a people-centered sustainable energy transition, we instead see decisions that will lock us into a dirty and dangerous energy future. This is why we are determined to make a strong legal challenge to this reckless and unfair decision."



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