Brussels (dpa) - State payments to energy companies because of the coal phase-out that has been decided could violate EU law.
The EU Commission announced on Tuesday that it had “doubts about the compatibility of the measure with EU state aid rules”.
Specifically, it is about 4.35 billion euros to RWE and Leag for lost profits and additional mining follow-up costs due to the imminent exit from coal-fired power generation in Germany.
First and foremost, it is about the adequacy of these compensation payments.
"The Commission has doubts whether the compensation of the operators for lost profits, which extend very far into the future, can be regarded as the minimum required," the commission said.
The compensation that will be granted to the plant operators for the early exit must be limited to the minimum necessary, said EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
"The information we have so far does not allow us to confirm this with certainty."
Germany now has the opportunity to comment on the case as part of the investigation that has been initiated.
In the course of the coal phase-out, the Bundestag approved a contract concluded by the federal government with the lignite operators in mid-January.
According to this, Germany's largest electricity producer RWE will receive a total of 2.6 billion euros, and 1.75 billion euros are earmarked for the Lausitzer Leag.
In order to protect the climate, the generation of electricity from coal should be a thing of the past by 2038 at the latest.
Until then, the federal government wants to repeatedly review the consequences of the coal phase-out for security of supply and the development of electricity prices - because the last nuclear power plant in Germany will also be shut down by the end of 2022.
However, it is also to be examined whether the coal phase-out can be brought forward to 2035.
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