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Brussels, 14 January 2011

Antitrust: Commission market tests measures proposed by Greece concerning the Greek electricity market

The European Commission has invited comments from interested parties on measures offered by the Greek Government regarding its electricity market. The measures have been proposed to comply with a decision adopted on 5 March 2008 (see IP/08/386) which found that Greece had infringed competition rules (Articles 102 and 106 TFEU) by maintaining rights giving the state-owned electricity incumbent Public Power Corporation (PPC) privileged access to lignite. Greece has proposed to grant access to 40% of lignite-fired generation to competitors of PPC in the Greek electricity market.

Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia commented: “This case is about creating a level playing field between PPC and its competitors on the Greek electricity wholesale market. This is fundamental to ensure a greater choice of electricity suppliers and increase security of supply for consumers. I am looking forward to hearing the views of all stakeholders on the proposal of the Greek government".

On 5 March 2008 (see IP/08/386), the Commission found that Greece had infringed European competition rules, by granting to PPC privileged access to lignite, which is the cheapest source of electricity generation in Greece. That privileged access created inequality of opportunity between economic operators and enabled PPC to maintain or reinforce its dominant position on the Greek wholesale electricity market by excluding or hindering market entry by newcomers. Article 106(1) TFEU requires Member States to ensure that public undertakings and undertakings to which Member States grant special or exclusive rights comply with EC Treaty rules, including competition rules.

The March 2008 decision called upon Greece to propose measures to correct the anti-competitive effects of the infringement. In 2009 Greece offered measures to tender four new lignite mines to competitors of PPC, which represent around 40% of the total exploitable Greek lignite reserves. These measures were made legally binding by a Commission Decision of 4 August 2009 (see IP/09/1226).

The Greek Government requested however a review of the 2009 Decision due to its new energy policy. Greece has informed the Commission that it would continue using existing lignite mines but not open up new lignite mines. As an alternative measure to address the competition concerns the Greek Government proposes to give to competitors of PPC access to 40% of lignite-fired generation through drawing rights in existing lignite-fired power plants of PPC. Furthermore, participants will be offered participation in future power plant projects using currently available lignite.

If the request for the review of the 2009 Decision is justified and the measures proposed by the Greek Government are adequate to meet the concerns identified by the 2008 Decision, the Commission could adopt a new Decision, on the basis of Article 106 TFEU, making the measures binding for the Hellenic Republic.

The new proposed measures are published in full in English and Greek on the website of the Directorate-General for Competition at:

Interested parties can submit comments before 11 February 2011.

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