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EU | 18 October 2022

Enforcing the rights of energy communities - Overview of judicial and non-judicial mechanisms at EU and national levels
Clean energy

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Enforcing the rights of energy communities - Overview of judicial and non-judicial mechanisms at EU and national levels

In the present context of soaring energy prices and uncertain energy supply in Europe, the participation and empowerment of citizens in energy projects is necessary. The Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) and the Internal Electricity Market Directive (IEMD) introduced Renewable Energy Communities (RECs) and Citizen Energy Communities (CECs). These concepts aim to involve citizens, local municipalities and small and medium-sized enterprises  in the energy transition. The EU legislation provides rights and responsibilities for them to collectively engage in various energy activities such as the production, sharing and supply of renewable electricity, but also the storage and development of energy efficiency services. RECs and CECs can contribute to improving local acceptance of renewable energy projects and increasing the share of renewables in the energy mix while improving energy savings for households and SMEs. In the longer term, energy communities can lead to more sustainable consumption behaviours, lower supply tariffs, as well as changes in supply and demand patterns for the benefit of citizens.

However, because they may lack expertise and/or financial capacity, energy communities need a favourable and supportive regulatory framework, including technical assistance and financial support, to start their projects. The objective of the REDII and the IEMD is to create a level playing field for them on energy markets. The directives prescribe strict definitions and detailed enabling frameworks for energy communities which must be transposed by MS into their national frameworks within certain deadlines.

Although the deadlines for transposing REDII and IEMD have passed, there remains a lot of gaps with the transposition – let alone the implementation – of the EU law provisions on energy communities in a large majority of Member states. While some have not yet transposed the relevant provisions at all, others only integrated them into their national legislation either partially.

This guidance document is intended to serve as a practical guide for citizens, cooperatives, national associations, and relevant legal entities forming energy communities, on the different mechanisms to address transposition and implementation issues in relation to the EU provisions on energy communities. It lists a series of legal and non-legal interventions that can be initiated within the EU and selected national legal frameworks to push Member states to comply with their obligations and to challenge national transposing laws that are not in line with the EU directives.

Part I focuses on actions that can be taken in front of EU institutions and national courts and authorities. By way of example, it provides information on possible legal avenues in selected Member States (Hungary, France, and Belgium) that could be used by aggrieved energy communities. Part II gives an overview of the possible transposition problems of the EU law provisions on energy community and the legal grounds that could be invoked in a complaint or case alleging a breach of these provisions by a Member state.