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Commission approves Greek ETMEAR levy cuts for energy-intensive companies

The European Commission has recently approved, under EU State aid rules, reductions granted to energy-intensive companies on a surcharge to finance support for renewable electricity production and high-efficient cogeneration in Greece. Greece provides support to renewable electricity and high-efficient cogeneration of electricity and heat. This support is financed through a surcharge imposed on final electricity consumers based on their electricity consumption, known as the “ETMEAR levy”.

EU State aid rules, in particular, the 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy, authorise reductions – up to a certain level – in contributions levied on energy-intensive companies exposed to international trade and used to fund renewable energy support schemes.

The Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy allow Member States to grant state aid for electricity from renewable energy sources and cogeneration, subject to certain conditions.

These rules are aimed at meeting the EU’s ambitious energy and climate targets at the least possible cost for taxpayers and without undue distortions of competition in the Single Market while enabling Member States to support renewable energies while safeguarding the international competitiveness of their energy-intensive companies.

The 2014 guidelines also apply to non-notified reductions granted before July 1, 2014. In order to ensure a smooth transition for the companies concerned, Member States are required to submit an adjustment plan to progressively bring non-notified reductions in line with the criteria of the 2014 guidelines.

The Greek renewable and cogeneration support scheme were originally approved by the Commission in November 2016. The Commission found that the reductions of the ETMEAR levy will only be granted to energy-intensive companies exposed to international trade.

Furthermore, Greece submitted an adjustment plan to align the level of reductions for all eligible companies and to phase out after a transitory period the reductions for non-eligible companies that were benefitting from an ETMEAR levy reduction until now.

Therefore, the Commission found that the Greek measure and the adjustment plan are in line with EU State aid rules.  The measure will promote EU energy and climate goals and ensure the global competitiveness of energy-intensive industries, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.

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