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Commission loses legal battle over Belgian allocation plan

02 Feb 2012 20:34:24 | edcm

The Belgian region of Wallonia has emerged victorious from a legal battle with the European Commission concerning its national allocation plan (NAP) for phase II emissions quotas.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg annulled on Wednesday a decision made by the Commission in March 2009, preventing Wallonia from changing its NAP to grant steel giant ArcelorMittal quotas on an annual basis for its now-idle HF6 blast furnace outside Liege.

Wallonia had sent a revised NAP to the Commission in June 2008, attaching a quota figure just shy of 13m EU allowances (EUAs) to the HF6 plant for 2008-2012. It added a footnote saying that the plant should be allocated EUA quotas as and when necessary.

But the Commission refused to allow Wallonia to make the amendments. Instead, it insisted on a firm quota figure for the European emission trading system's phase II period of 2008-2012.

The ruling

Before the court, the Walloons successfully argued that the Commission's decision infringed four aspects of European law, including "the principle of community loyalty and good administration".

The Commission was ordered to pay all legal costs.

A spokeswoman for the Commission's Directorate General for climate action said: "We take note of the decision, and we regret that the court opted for annulment."

A spokeswoman for ArcelorMittal declined to comment on the matter.

Where other countries have one NAP, Belgium has three NAPs that are implemented by the Flemish, Brussels and Walloon authorities.

The government of Wallonia has previously offered ArcelorMittal free EUAs to encourage the company to keep its Liege blast furnace open (see EDCM 11 March 2010). TH

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