Better late than never: we are proud to announce here that we took part (also among speakers) at the II. Hungarian Energy Law Conference organised by the Károli Gáspár University and Wolters Kluwer, held in Budapest, 11 May 2017. Lexcellence's presentation was a short overview of the most important types of energy industry related State aid cases brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union. Slides of the presentation can be downloaded from here. We were invited to the conference as previously we have made a presentation at the University's similar event last year (the KRE Energy Law Forum 2016) concerning MOL's successfully closed State aid case and its influence on EU Court interpretations of the selectivity criterion.

We are really grateful for the opportunity and for the highly professional contribution of the conference's organisers. 

Austria Asphalt is about to make a history since the case relating to the setting up of a joint venture of its asphalt mixing plant is the first preliminary ruling concerning EU merger control regime.

Jogtörténeti jelentőségű jogértelmezés várható egy osztrák aszfaltkeverő üzem ügyében, ez ugyanis az uniós fúziókontroll szabályait érintő első előzetes döntéshozatali eljárás. A kérdés, hogy az uniós fúziókontroll-rendelet hatálya alá tartozik-e az a tranzakció, miszerint az üzem jelenlegi kizárólagos tulajdonosa a tulajdonrészének 50 %-át átengedné az új tulajdonos számára, és az üzem működtetésére közös vállalatot hoznának létre, úgy, hogy az üzem jelenleg is és a jövőben is szinte kizárólag a tulajdonosai számára végez tevékenységet. Kokott főtanácsnok április 27-én közzétett indítványában olyan jogértelmezést javasolt a Bíróságnak, miszerint az alapügybeli tranzakció nem minősül a fúziókontroll rendelet hatálya alá tartozó összefonódásnak, ugyanis - tekintettel arra, hogy az érintett üzemnek nincs önálló, az anyavállalataitól független piaci jelenléte - nem érinti a piac szerkezetét. A főtanácsnok jogértelmezése szerint tehát a piac szerkezetét érintő összefonódások az ex-ante ellenőrzést biztosító fúziókontroll hatálya alá tartoznak, míg az alapügybelihez hasonló tranzakció a vállalkozások versenypiaci magatartásának ex-post ellenőrzését biztosító szabályok keretében ellenőrizhetők.

There might have been a turn in the assessment of Altmark conditions. In its judegements delivered on the 1st of March the General Court reassured the Commission's finding of a manifest error in the definition of a service of general economic interest. France intended to provide ferry services between continental France and the island of Corsica as services of general economic interest even in the high season when ferries from neighbouring ports were able to meet the demands. So there was no market failure to justify the imposition of a service of general economic interest. The conclusion might be that there must be a market failure when a Member State wants to define a SGEI, however, the General Court made an opposite decision in January, where the existence of a market failure was not necessary for defining a SGEI. So the case-law concerning the application of the Altmark conditions has become uncertain, however, it seems that conditions depend on the Commission's assessment: the existence of a market failure is necessary to apply the Altmark conditions only in case the Commission thinks so.


On March 7 the General Court annulled Commission decision prohibiting UPS to acquire control over direct competitor TNT. The annulment took place on the ground that the Commission infringed UPS's right of defence by not informing it about the final version of the econometric model used by the Commission to estimate the impact of the proposed acquisition on prices. The Commission's assessment on the number of Member States'markets that could be significantly obsructed by the proposed acquistion was partly based on this estimation. During the procedure UPS could comment on the model and as a result, the number of Member States presumably affected was reduced from 29 to 15. So it is a quite exciting question whether UPS's comments in the reprised procedure could have the effect that the Commission would finally approve the proposed acquisition.


An unexpected opinion from Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe was revealed this month in a procedure concerning the Polish support scheme of electricity produced by cogeneration. According to the Advocate General, the scheme is not financed through State resources where supply obligation of electricity produced by cogeneration is partly financed by ENEA, a State-owned supplier. The Polish legislation at issue imposed a 15 % supply obligation on electricity suppliers, however it did not fix the purchase price or any other particulars of the contracts between producers and suppliers. On the other hand, high purchase prices of cogenerated electricity could not entirely be passed on to consumers due to regulated end-user prices. It is true, that the Polish supporting scheme at issue is by far the most resembling to the one evaluated in the PreussenElektra judgement, more than any other supporting schemes assessed since then. However it was rather surprising, that the Advocate General did not even discuss whether the company resources financing the scheme were under the control of State authorities.