Berlin (German news agency) – The introduction of an industrial electricity price in Germany would probably be compatible with the state aid law of the European Union. This is the conclusion reached by a legal opinion by the law firm Becker Büttner Held (BBH) on behalf of the Labor and Environment Foundation of the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IGBCE), about which the newspapers of the Funke media group (Saturday editions) report.
As a result, the introduction of an industrial electricity price should be classified as aid, according to the report. This would be “compatible with the internal market because it pursues a legitimate climate policy purpose, is necessary because of the international competitive situation in the sectors concerned and would also be suitable and appropriate in view of the envisaged design,” it said. “Our legal examination shows that EU state aid law does not have to speak out against the introduction of the industrial electricity price. Of course, it depends on the design: the focus must be on the transformation, just the watering can principle does not work,” said Ines Zenke, lawyer and co-author of the report. According to the report, the proposed industrial electricity price constitutes a subsidy, since it is only intended to be accessible to a limited group of addressees, it is to be financed from state funds and it constitutes an economic advantage. At the same time, however, it is compatible with the internal market and therefore compatible with state aid, since it is pursuing a “legitimate, important purpose”, according to the report. It aims to maintain the competitiveness of German industry in the medium and long term. If you want to achieve the climate goals, it must be prevented that sectors “migrate to third countries with lower climate and environmental protection standards because of excessive energy cost burdens,” says the report. The industrial electricity price is required as long as no other means that can be implemented in the short term are available. Limiting electricity costs is also suitable because it gives companies planning security. The instrument is also appropriate because it brings the price of electricity to an internationally competitive level and, due to its design, which should be limited to 80 percent of benchmarked electricity consumption, also offers incentives to save electricity. According to the legal opinion, there would also be no “excessively negative” effects on competition and trade. Instead, there is even a positive balance, since the industrial electricity price makes a contribution to the climate policy goals and jobs are preserved. “The benefits mentioned far outweigh the likely to be manageable impairments to competition and trade in the internal market,” the paper says. IGBCE boss Michael Vassiliadis gave a positive assessment of the result of the report. “The report clearly shows that legal doubts are nonsense, the industrial electricity price for energy-intensive industries is legally possible,” Vassiliadis told the Funke newspapers. It now depends on the political will whether you want to keep the energy-intensive industry in Germany. “The industrial electricity price offers energy-intensive industries security,” said the union chairman. Germany will need it until the renewable energies and grids are expanded to such an extent that the domestic electricity price is competitive without help. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) presented a working paper in May in which he proposed temporarily capping the price of electricity for energy-intensive industries at six cents per kilowatt hour.