State Aid: Commission launches sector inquiry into mechanisms to ensure electricity supplies

The European Commission has launched a state aid sector inquiry into national measures to ensure that adequate capacity to produce electricity is available at all times to avoid black-outs (so-called “capacity mechanisms”). The inquiry will gather information on capacity mechanisms to examine, in particular, whether they ensure sufficient electricity supply without distorting competition or trade in the EU Single Market. It complements the Commission’s Energy Union Strategy to create a connected, integrated and secure energy market in Europe. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Governments have a legitimate interest to ensure that there is sufficient electricity supply – households and industry should not face black-outs. My role is to safeguard that public measures to underpin investment in electricity supplies do not unduly favour particular producers or technologies, or create obstacles to trade across national borders. For example, in some cases it might be more efficient to invest in improving electricity grid connections between EU countries than to build new power stations.” She also said: “This sector inquiry sends a clear signal to Member States to respect EU state aid rules when implementing capacity mechanisms, and contributes to the Commission’s goal to build a true Energy Union in Europe.”