ClientEarth briefing: The General Block Exemption Regulation – A revised State aid tool to encourage the green transition?
The European Commission recently adopted the revised General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). The GBER is an important tool for Member States to grant aid without any prior notification to the European Commission. Member States are ultimately the ones responsible for setting public funding priorities, and the GBER provides the enabling framework to do so.
ClientEarth analysed it and bundled the main changes and findings for energy and environmental aid in an informative briefing. Our main findings are:
- Overall, the revision contains several positive developments. It maintains the possibility to support renewable energy, including small scale installations, and rightly values renewable energy communities. The new possibility to support the protection or restoration of biodiversity as well as clean mobility, although with certain caveats, are also welcome additions to the GBER. Efforts have also been made to further support energy efficiency measures.
- However, the revised GBER also contains areas of serious concern and missed opportunities. The maintained support to fossil gas is the major point of contention of the revised GBER. The Commission’s view that compliance with the 2030 and 2050 climate targets can be reached by subjecting fossil gas investments to the technical screening criteria of the Taxonomy Delegated Regulation ore requiring it to be "hydrogen-ready" is flawed. Similarly, for hydrogen, although direct support rightfully mainly targets renewable hydrogen, it is not limited to hard-to-abate sectors and non-renewable hydrogen is also indirectly supported.
- Finally, although the possibility to support industrial decarbonisation can be welcomed as a matter of principle, it includes the possibility to support carbon capture, utilisation and storage without any strong standards and without limiting it to hard-to-abate sectors.