Press release

EU Court confirms Hinkley Point State Aid legally valid

Sep 23, 2020

Brussels, 23 September 2020: FORATOM welcomes the European Court of Justice’s ruling that the subsidies granted by the UK to Hinkley Point C are in line with EU rules.  This ruling comes after Austria – renowned for its anti-nuclear stance – took the European Commission to court for approving state aid to this project.

FORATOM is delighted to see the ECJ re-affirm its support for the Commission’s decision to approve state aid for nuclear power” states Yves Desbazeille, FORATOM Director General. “Given the challenges which Member States are facing in terms of decarbonising their power sector, whilst maintaining security of supply, for many, and as indicated in their very recent NECPs, nuclear is seen as an important part of the solution”.

Approved in 2014, the measures implemented by the UK government included a contract for difference and credit guarantees for bonds issued for the project. Austria’s first attempt at challenging the Commission’s decision was rejected by the ECJ in July 2018.  Having subsequently appealed the ruling, the ECJ has once again rejected Austria’s arguments against this project.

In this ruling the ECJ confirms a number of points, including:

  • Each MS is free to determine its own energy mix, and thus cannot be prevented from choosing nuclear as an option.
  • The objectives of the Euratom Treaty cover the construction of nuclear power plants, making them eligible for state aid.
  • State aid rules under the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) apply to the nuclear sector. The Euratom Treaty does not preclude the application of EU environmental law on the environment (meaning that state aid cannot normally be granted to nuclear projects which contravene EU environmental rules).

This ruling confirms that MS can provide some financial assistance to low-carbon nuclear as long as it is in line with EU state aid rules, adds Mr Desbazeille.   “Furthermore, it sends the important message that whilst some MS may not wish to develop nuclear, they cannot prevent others from including it in their own low-carbon energy mix”.

About us: The European Atomic Forum (FORATOM) is the Brussels-based trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe. The membership of FORATOM is made up of 15 national nuclear associations and through these associations, FORATOM represents nearly 3,000 European companies working in the industry and supporting around 1,100,000 jobs.

For more information, please contact Jessica Johnson: jessica.johnson@foratom.org.     

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