State aid: Commission invites interested parties to provide comments on proposed draft Climate, Energy and Environmental State aid Guidelines

The European Commission has launched today a targeted public consultation inviting all interested parties to comment on the proposed revision of the Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy (“Energy and Environmental State aid guidelines” or “EEAG”). To cater for the increased importance of climate protection, the revised guidelines will go under the name of Climate, Energy and Environmental State aid guidelines (“CEEAG”). The proposed Guidelines also include compatibility rules for flagship areas like clean mobility infrastructure and biodiversity, as well as resource efficiency to support the transition towards a circular economy. Interested parties can respond to the consultation for eight weeks, until 2 August 2021.

The Energy and Environmental State aid guidelines enable Member States to support projects for environmental protection (including climate protection and green energy generation), as well as measures to ensure energy generation adequacy, subject to certain conditions. The Guidelines aim at helping Member States meet their ambitious EU energy and climate targets, at the least possible cost for taxpayers and without undue distortions of competition in the Single Market.

The Commission has conducted an evaluation of the current Guidelines as part of the State aid Fitness Check. The evaluation revealed that the current provisions of the Guidelines work well, they are overall fit for purpose and are an effective tool when it comes to supporting the achievement of the EU’s environmental goals and climate targets, while limiting undue distortions in the Single Market. It the same time, the evaluation showed that some targeted adjustments, including simplifying and updating certain provisions and extending the scope of the Guidelines to cover new areas such as clean mobility and decarbonisation may be needed. Furthermore, the evaluation showed that the current rules may need to be aligned with the Commission’s strategic priorities, in particular those of European Green Deal, and with other recent regulatory changes in the energy and environmental areas.

Broadening the scope of the Guidelines to enable support in new areas (e.g. clean mobility, energy efficiency in buildings, circularity and biodiversity) and to all technologies that can deliver the Green Deal, including support for renewable energy. The revised rules would generally allow for aid amounts covering up to 100% of the funding gap and to introduce new aid instruments, such as Carbon Contracts for Difference. Increasing flexibility and streamlining the existing rules, by introducing a simplified assessment of cross-cutting measures under a single section of the Guidelines and eliminating the requirement for individual notifications of large green projects within aid schemes previously approved by the Commission.

Introducing safeguards to ensure that the aid is effectively directed where it is necessary to improve climate and environmental protection, is limited to what is needed to achieve the environmental goals and does not distort competition or the integrity of the Single Market. The draft Guidelines and all other information about the public consultation, including more details about the proposed changes, are available online. In addition to the targeted public consultation launched today, the draft text of the Climate, Energy and Environmental State aid guidelines will also be discussed in a meeting between the Commission and Member States that will take place towards the end of the consultation period. This process will ensure that both Member States and other interested parties will have sufficient opportunities to comment on the draft Commission proposal.

Source: European Commission

 

Author: Tuula Pohjola