The EU Commission needs to act now against Member States’ retrospective changes to renewables support schemes if it wants to avoid having a ripple effect

At a conference organized by the Spanish law firm Holtrop S.L.P. in Brussels on the 5th March, representatives of the European renewables sector, MEPs and lawyers defending renewables in different Member States discussed about the future of support schemes for renewables in the European Union.

The conference, which took place at Martins Hotel in Brussels, was divided into an opening speech, two discussion Panels and a closure. 

The opening speech was given by Mr. Javier Gracía Breva, one of the most remarkable experts in the Spanish renewable energies Sector. Mr. García Breva was very critical with the new Energy Reform of the Spanish Government, because he considered it lacks planning and it does not address the main problems of the Spanish electricity system, such as excess of installed capacity or the deficiencies of the wholesale market. 

At the first panel, representatives of several relevant organizations of the renewables sector presented their vision on how the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework should be drafted. The speakers were Mr. Marcel Bial, (ESTELA), Ms. Frauke Thies (EPIA), Mr. Petros Tsikouras (Green PV Federation), Mr. Dirk Vansintjan, president of RESCOOP, Mr. Enrique Guerrero, (Socialist MEP) and Ms. Cote Romero (spokesperson of the Spanish Platform for a New Energy Model). All speakers agreed that the proposed 27 % objective for renewables in 2030 is manifestly insufficient and that the current draft of the State Aid Guidelines for renewables is too restrictive, especially when it comes to the 1 MW maximum limit for benefiting from a support scheme. 

The second panel was devoted to analyzing the retrospective changes of the support schemes to renewables in different countries. The first speaker was Mr. Piet Holtrop, founding partner of the law firm hosting the conference, who presented the negative and retrospective changes renewables have suffered in Spain and elaborated on the strategy his firm will follow to legally challenge those changes. Mr. Holtrop also pointed out how the landmark IBV judgment (C-195/12) has led the European Commission to accept that the general principles of EU law apply when Member States adopt support schemes for renewables. Then, Mr. Sandis Bertaitis, Mr. Antonis Metaxas and Mr. Andrius Mamontovas explained the retrospective measures adopted in Latvia, Greece and Lithuania respectively in relation to renewable energies, whereas Jana Nysten and Josh Roberts offered a more pan-European vision in relation to support schemes to renewables.

The closure speech was carried out by Mr. Raul Romeva, green MEP, who highlighted out the energy model is related to the economy in general and also to democracy. 

There was general consensus among speakers in the fact that support schemes need to be dynamic, flexible and predictable, and that investor’s confidence has been greatly damaged by the introduction of retrospective changes. The speakers welcomed the European Commission Communication published in November on state intervention in renewable support schemes, but also called upon the Commission to be congruent with the content of the Communication and to act against States which do not comply with it, as the only way to avoid having a ripple effect of retrospective changes to renewables all along the EU.