Mise à jour : 10 septembre 2012 (Rédaction initiale : 2 juin 2012 )

Analyses Sectorielles

The European Commission adopted on May, 22 2012 guidelines in State aid allowing States to awarding compensation to companies that they support the cost of the market for trading of greenhouse gas emissions.



Context and Summary

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The Treaty of the European Union prohibits State aid in that they interfere with the construction of the internal market. In addition, State aid constitute a distortion of competition if they benefit to a sector that can afford the privilege of being not competitive, without even referring to the nationalism of national champions, built on the nationality of the recipient, born-criminal to European competition law. But from a perspective of regulation, the aids guarantee a different assessment. Indeed, if Europe wants to build a space that is not only competitive, that is to say which are not only a space of freedom, only a space, then the aid may find foundations. Thus it is energy for Europe, and more precisely for the European energy policy, as soon as that Europe decided to promote clean industry, and "decarbonising its industry", that is beginning to make the industrial policy.

This is what justifies the implementation from the system of trading emission of greenhouse gases (ETS) in 2013. The market mechanism is here used as a tool of regulation, in order to obtain the reduction of the use of carbon (for example coal). It is the "sprayed Sprinkler"; in the 1990s, Europe used regulation to install competition, in the process of liberalization.

Today, the European institutions use market techniques for building regulations. It is thus markets of C02; allowing exchanges of quota of emissions, is the way to lead European industry to an ecological industry. This system will lead to an increase in the price of electricity. These are companies which must, for industrial activity, consume the most power, which therefore suffer the indirect backlash to this regulatory, even though they are not themselves producers of energy.

This is the case of firms who grow cotton or those that manufacture steel, aluminium, copper, paper and chemicals. Regulation produced on it what could be referred to as a "side effect", because they produce no pollution, and should still "pay" through the increase of electrical energy and the new ecological regulation. This is why by what could be referred to as "regulation of regulation", the European Commission admitted in published guidelines on May 22, 2012, that States pay these companies to financial compensation for the increased cost of electricity supply by the emission allowance trading system.

Brief commentary

In the statutory law of the European Union, State Aids are prohibited. But exemptions may be authorised in certain cases. These exemptions frequently match hypotheses of regulation. This concerned the technique in the system of exchange of emission of greenhouse gases (system of trading emission of greenhouse gases - ETS) that the European Union will implement in 2013. This system will force companies to spend money for a cleaner activity or to "buy" "points to pollute". To the extent where it is a service of general economic interest consisting of decarbonizing the European economy while at the same time maintaining a fair competition between European countries, States may grant financial compensation to large consumers of energy, such as steel or aluminium producers directly affected by the new system.

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