News 2015‎ > ‎News 2013‎ > ‎

EU rules do not prohibit state aid for nuclear power

Letter published in the Financial Times, 2013-07-23

From Mr Antoine Colombani.

Sir, I was surprised by your report “EU to allow state aid for nuclear power” (July 20) on alleged plans by the European Commission concerning state aid for nuclear power.

The commission has no plans to encourage such aid or to make it easier for member states to grant it. State aid for nuclear power is currently not prohibited by EU rules: member states’ plans in that respect are notified to the commission and assessed directly under the Treaty rules, in the absence of specific commission guidelines in this sector. The purpose of this assessment is to check that such subsidies do not unduly distort competition in the EU single market, as member states are of course free to make their own choices when it comes to nuclear power.

The commission is planning to adopt guidelines on state aid for energy and environmental protection in 2014. In that context and given that some member states wish to subsidise nuclear power, the commission is considering whether or not to include in those guidelines specific provisions on state aid for nuclear energy. The guidelines would only set out clear and transparent principles, discussed ex ante with stakeholders, for the assessment of such notifications. The commission has not yet taken a position on whether or not such specific rules are needed and will launch a public consultation in the autumn to gather the views of member states and stakeholders. If no specific provisions are introduced in the guidelines the commission would simply keep assessing notifications under the general Treaty rules on state aid, building specific criteria through its case practice.

In any event it should be clear that the commission has no plan whatsoever to “exempt” nuclear power from “the general restrictions on state aid” or even to facilitate the granting of such subsidies compared to the present situation. Each notification by a member state would of course still be subject to a case-by-case analysis by the commission.

Antoine Colombani, Spokesman for Competition and for Vice President Joaquín Almunia, European Commission