European Policy

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In order to explain the renewable electricity (RES-E) policy changes in EU member states, one of the most important variables (as identified in the introductory chapter) is the Europeanisation of domestic public policies. By the Europeanisation of domestic public policies, we mean the influence of European policy on the RES-E policy of member states. The aim of this chapter is to present the European policies that have potentially influenced the RES-E policy changes in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK: the liberalisation policy (Directives of 1996 and 2003), the community guidelines on state aid (1994 and 2001), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in the Preussen- Elektra case against Schleswag (2001), and the RES-E policy (the green paper of 1996, the white paper of 1997, the working paper of 1999 and the directive of 2001) (see figure 1).

This chapter is divided into four sections. First, we briefly describe the European electricity market liberalisation policy and its transposition in the member states. We note that, despite the existence of common European rules concerning both economic and social and political regulation, the liberalisation processes are not similar in the member states. In addition, for environmental reasons, the electricity produced from renewable energy sources (RES-E) can derogate from some EU competition rules (state aid rules, public service obligations). Indeed, under certain conditions, state aid can be granted to RES-E in order to compensate for the absence of the internalisation of environmental externalities in the liberalised electricity market. Moreover, the liberalisation directive of 1996 allows the member states to impose public service obligations on market operators in order to promote RES-E in the liberalised electricity market.

The second section presents the community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection, according to which support to RES-E may, under certain circumstances, be legitimated as state aid.

The third section introduces a very important ruling of the ECJ for the RES-E policy: the PreussenElektra case against Schleswag. The impact of this case went well beyond the German utilities’ interests, as it questioned the legality of the German feed-in tariff system and was perceived to be a threat to all the other similar RES-E policy instruments in Europe.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • How and Why Do Policies Change?
    How and why do policies change? The author addresses this question by examining the renewable electricity policies of five European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK) over the last thirty years. Employing a comparative approach that is qualitative yet consistent and rigorous, she describes how these countries' policies changed over time, whether incrementally or comprehensively, and shows how those changes may be explained, citing political, economic, social, and technological factors.
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