EU weighs ‘derogation’ for Poland in bid to phase out coal

(EurActiv, 18 Dec 2018) Greens have lashed out at the European Commission for trying to pass an exemption from draft electricity market rules that would allow poorer countries like Poland to continue subsidising coal because their GDP is lower than the EU’s average.

Florent Marcellesi, a Green Member of the European Parliament, has accused the Commission of manoeuvring behind the scenes to clinch a deal on the proposed reform of EU electricity market rules, part of a “clean energy package” of laws that was tabled more than two years ago.

“A GDP-based derogation to exonerate Poland from their obligation to stop coal subsidies would condemn poor communities in this country to continue paying a lot of money to support the very plants which are poisoning them,” Marcellesi said.

“That is extremely shocking. The Commission should not even consider that option,” he told EURACTIV.

The EU executive declined to comment on ongoing negotiations.

Marcellesi sits in the European Parliament delegation at talks to reform the EU’s electricity market. Negotiations are expected to conclude on Tuesday (18 December) during a final round of discussions between the Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, under the Commission’s watch.

The previous round of talks collapsed over Poland’s insistence to keep providing state aid to coal via so-called “capacity mechanisms” which remunerate power plants for remaining on stand-by to meet peak demand for electricity. Those “peak generators” are considered essential to avoid blackouts, particularly in winter, but they would be unprofitable without state support.

As part of its power market overhaul, the Commission has proposed phasing out state aid for plants emitting more than 550g of CO2 per kilowatt hour, saying capacity mechanisms should not be used as “backdoor subsidies” for fossil fuels. This was rejected by Poland, which relies on coal for nearly 80% of its electricity needs.

External link

EurActiv, 18 Dec 2018: EU weighs ‘derogation’ for Poland in bid to phase out coal