The French Energy Economy Certificate Scheme And Market

Author:Ms Armelle Sandrin-Deforge and Marion Cantegrel
Profession:Jones Day

On March 9, 2016, the French administrative Supreme Court ("Conseil d'Etat") issued a noteworthy ruling regarding the French Energy Economy Certificates ("Certificats d'économie d'énergie" or CEE). The French CEE scheme was created in 2005, and it requires energy suppliers (including electricity, gas, fuel, and vehicle gas/petrol) whose sales are above a certain threshold to participate in energy saving, either through direct savings on their own installations or by helping their customers to save energy. Energy-saving actions eligible to obtain CEEs are defined and listed by ministerial orders. CEEs can be traded on a market that is not regulated by the authorities. An association of alternative energy suppliers ("Association nationale des opérateurs détaillants en énergie") brought an action before the Conseil d'Etat to obtain the annulment of a government decree dated December 20, 2013, modifying CEE obligations and the CEE scheme. The claimants stated that the CEE scheme qualified as a State aid, in violation of Article 107 paragraph 1 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union ("TFEU"). However, the Conseil d'Etat, which relied on precedents by the Court of Justice of the European Union, ruled that the CEE scheme, unlike greenhouse gas quotas, cannot be considered as a State aid at the European level since it does not create any aid directly or indirectly granted through State resources. As a consequence, it was not necessary to submit the disputed 2013 decree to the European Commission before its entry into force. Also, the claimants stated that the 2013 decree created a difference of treatment between energy suppliers. Their point was that "historical" energy operators (in particular...

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