21 September 20215 minute read

DLA Piper helps Hellenic Republic resolve Greek electricity market dispute

DLA Piper has advised the Hellenic Republic in negotiations with the European Commission to resolve a landmark ‘Greek lignite and electricity markets’ antitrust case. This resulted in the Hellenic Republic proposed new Commitments, which were accepted by the European Commission on 1 September 2021 and made legally binding by virtue of its relevant decision issued on 10 September 2021.

This case dates back to 2008, when the European Commission issued its first decision expressing concerns regarding the impact on the Greek electricity market of the Hellenic Republic previously granting exclusive access of lignite to the Public Power Corporation (PPC) .

Following appeals before the European courts, further Commission decisions and an attempt to resolve the case in 2018 through a remedy consisting of the divestment of certain PPC’s lignite plants, the Hellenic Republic submitted on 1 September 2021 a revised remedy. This entails the sale of quarterly forward electricity products on the organised exchanges of the European Energy Exchange (EEX) and/or the Hellenic Energy Exchange (HEnEx), thus giving PPC’s competitors access to wholesale electricity on the forward market and helping them hedge against price volatility. The proposed remedy will lapse when existing lignite plants stop operating commercially (expected by 2023) or, at the latest, by 31 December 2024.

DLA Piper provided advice to the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy on the proceedings before the European Commission, advising on all aspects of EU competition as well as Greek law and assisting with the drafting of the domestic legislation transposing the Commitments to the Greek legal order. Litigation and Regulatory partner, Orestis Omran, acted as lead counsel, supported by senior associates Stella Mavrommati and Andreas Politis and associate Panagiota Skiathiti.

Orestis Omran commenting on the case, said:

“We are honoured to have supported the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy in the successful conclusion of an antitrust case that has lasted for over 12 years. The Commitments are expected to enhance competition benefiting the Greek electricity market as a whole. They feature a number of novelties, including a market-driven approach as a measure leveraging on the dynamics of the electricity forward market, which shall naturally result in considerable growth.”

“The fact that the duration of the remedy is tied to the decommissioning of lignite plants in Greece, is a major success that ensures that the remedy is in line with the present-day priorities of both the Government and the management of PPC, further supporting the energy transition in the country. Congratulations should go to the political leadership and the technical teams of the Ministry that worked tirelessly over the past two years to structure and get the Commitments agreed”.