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The CJEU’s Hinkley Point C ruling of 22 September 2020 confirms the European Commission’s obligation to check that activities comply with EU environmental law as a condition for them to receive State aid. In fact this compliance assessment was very rarely performed until now and only for compliance with specific sectoral legislation such as the Water Framework Directive or the Waste Framework Directive. The notion of EU environmental law is actually broader and encompasses the principles of prevention, precaution, “polluter pays” and sustainability. It will soon also include the European Climate Law binding the EU to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions of 55% by 2030 and to reaching climate neutrality by 2050.
This not proposes practical recommendations for the implementation of the judgement such as requiring that Member States justify of the compliance of aid beneficiaries with their obligations when notifying an aid measure to the Commission; adopting assessment guidelines where necessary; and assessing the harmful impacts of activities on the environment.