EC denies reports of new competition probe into German energy bill

The European Commissioner for competition Joaquín Almunia has denied reports suggesting a new competition investigation into the German renewable energy act (EEG) will start this week.

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A previous probe is still ongoing, a spokesman for Almunia told Steel First on Monday July 15.

The preliminary investigation looks at any potential unfair advantage for energy-intensive companies that receive a discounted EEG-surcharge rate when compared with other energy consumers.

“As already confirmed several months ago, the Commission has received a complaint launched by a German association representing private consumers and small and medium enterprises,” the spokesman said.

The investigation also includes the reviewing of support for renewable through the EEG financing mechanism, which was introduced in 2012.

“The Commission is examining whether these measures constitute state aid in the meaning of the treaty and if so, whether they would comply with applicable state aid rules and other treaty provisions,” the EC’s competition spokesman added.

However, the spokesman for the Commission’s competition team denied any plans to start a new probe against Germany’s EEG act on the grounds of it breaking EU competition rules, as media reports in the German magazine Der Spiegel suggested earlier on July 15.

“[The] preliminary investigation is not over yet. In any event no developments are scheduled before the summer break,” he added.

In April, the German steel association WV Stahl urged politicians to refrain from creating further economic uncertainty for the steel industry and noted an end to subsidies discounting the EEG-rate for steel mills would mean an end to competitive steel production.