Sunday, 11 March 2018

E.On and RWE are Reshaping the German Electricity Market

Two of Germany`s biggest utility companies, E.On and RWE, yesterday announced plans to restructure their assets. Germany`s electricity market is liberalized, but still dominated by four big oligopolistic companies. Two of the four companies are now going to coordinate their activities even more to create monopoly-like structures in particular areas. According to the plans, RWE is only focussing on electricity production in the future, whereas E.On is going to deal only with electricity transmission and distribution as well as end-user supplies and will cease its electricity generation activities. The plans still need to be approved by European competition authorities and the German Federal Cartel Office. German municipalities reported to be highly sceptical of the deal.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

German Federal Administrative Court Approves Of Diesel Car Ban - Cases BVerwG 7 C 26.16 BVerwG 7 C 30.17

On Tuesday 27 February 2018, the German Federal Administrative court largely approved of measures taken in Duesseldorf and Stuttgart to ban Diesel cars from driving in particular areas of the cities. Earlier, lower administrative courts obliged the federal governments of North-Rhine Westphalia and Baden Wuertemberg to change their respective air quality plans, which feature measures to lower the NO2 concentration in ambient air in big cities. The two states appealed the decisions, but now lost in front of the Federal Administrative Court. The court pointed out that bans for Diesel cars in particular areas of German cities have to be implemented by the governments, but that such bans have to be proportionate.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on Stricter Duties For Suppliers of Last Resort - Case Comment BGH VIII ZR 148/17

The German Federal Court of Justice (BGH)  recently ruled on the responsibilities of electricity companies that are acting as `suppliers of last resort´ towards German electricity customers. Until now their responsibilities stopped at the meter in the house of customers. This is about to change in certain cases. The judgement can have repercussions for the appraisal of supplier of last resort-duties in other European jurisdictions.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Dutch Court Landmark Decision On Compensation Of Victims Of Gas-Extraction Induced Earthquakes

By Joris Gazendam, LLM, PhD Researcher University of Groningen

On 23 January 2018 the Court of Appeal Arnhem-Leeuwarden ruled in a case between claimants living in the province of Groningen and the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (hereinafter: NAM). The case revolved around damages as a result of earthquakes which are caused by the extraction of natural gas in the province of Groningen. The main legal question was whether the owners of houses can claim compensation for the devaluation of their houses even if they do not sell their (whether or not physically damaged) houses. Normally, the financial loss for the owner of a house becomes visible on the moment of sale. In this case the owners explicitly wanted to be compensated even if they would not sell their house. The Court of Appeal ruled that an owner of a house can only once claim compensation for damages. Parties are free to decide on a reference date on which the depreciation is to be determined. On this date a real estate expert has to establish how much the house has decreased in value due to the earthquakes. On the reference date the potential future devaluation of the house, due to future earthquakes, is to be incorporated in the sum of the damages.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Oil Stocks Stand-Off: European Commission is taking Romania to Court

The European Commission announced last thursday (25 January 2018) that it is initiating an infringement procedure against Romania in front of the Court of Justice. The Commission alleges that Romania failed to correctly implement and apply the Oil Stocks Directive (Council Directive 2009/119/EU). The current Romanian legislation prohibits the use of oil stocks as collaterals, i.e. assets offered to secure a loan. This prohibition could make it more difficult for economic operators to fulfil their obligation to hold stocks. According to the Commission, Romania has also incorrectly implemented the rules concerning the right of economic operators to delegate their obligation to hold stocks and the establishment of emergency procedures in the event of a major supply disruption. Romania says it already amended its laws, but needs more time.

Monday, 15 January 2018

A New Government For Germany – Preliminary Energy and Climate Plans Published

In September 2017 Germany held general elections, but there still is no new government yet. After talks between the Conservatives (CDU/CSU), the Liberals (FDP) and the Greens broke down last year, Angela Merkel is trying to form a governmental `grand coalition´ between CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD). Both parties recently ended exploratory negotiations and issued a joint statement on 12 January 2018 that gives a first indication of Germany´s policy plans for the next 4 years. Although the paper is not yet a full-fledged coalition agreement, it nonetheless details the main policy lines that the possible new German government is intending to follow. So what does it have to say on energy and the climate ?

Thursday, 14 December 2017

New Book `European Energy Law Report XI´ Out Now

Building on the presentations held at the annual European Energy Law Seminar taking place every January in The Hague (NL), this book reviews central energy law issues from a national, EU and international perspective.  It has been an honour for me to contribute a chapter on ´Shale Gas and the EU´ (chapter XIV). The book is available from Intersentia here. The Table of Contents can be found here.