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ClientEarth Communications

21 June 2018

Rule of law
State Aid
Fossil fuels
Clean energy
State aid for a decarbonised Europe

Energy giant Engie must pay back 10 years’ worth of illegal tax breaks

Just under two years after ClientEarth warned fossil fuel companies may be forced to repay illegal subsidies, it has been announced that French energy giant Engie will have to do just that, to the tune of €120 million. The announcement was made by the European Commission yesterday.

ClientEarth energy lawyer Sam Bright said: “Fossil fuel companies dominate markets globally due to a bewildering range of state support – some legal, some demonstrably illegal. The European Commission’s decision in the Engie investigation proves it will crack down on unlawful subsidies and demand they be paid back.

“Not only are these subsidies illegal, they finance devastating and costly climate change, and they use taxpayers’ and billpayers’ money to do so. It makes no sense for people to suffer financially to support energy production that plainly belongs in the past. There is no excuse not to enforce the law: holding these companies to account is an ethical as well as a legal imperative.

“The European Commission has sent a signal to state-supported energy giants – they must factor the repayment of potentially illegal financial backing into the vast portfolio of risks they face in today’s climate.”

Engie is set to try to appeal the decision.

Read ClientEarth's initial comments on the investigation, when it was announced.

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