Unbundling Act for energy companies doesn’t violate EU law
The Dutch Unbundling Act – also known as The Independent Grid Management Act – prevents electricity and gas network operators from being part of a corporate group that includes companies producing, supplying or trading in energy in the Netherlands. The Act obliges energy companies to split their network from their commercial activities. Energy companies Essent, Eneco and Delta argued during the proceedings that the prohibitions violate European principles of free movement of capital and freedom of establishment. The Supreme Court disagreed and overturned rulings by the Court of Appeal of The Hague that the Unbundling Act violated European law and could therefor not be relied upon.
In their appeal, Eneco and Delta also invoked ‘the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions’ as protected by art. 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. This claim has not been considered by the Court of Appeal yet. In its judgment, the Supreme Court referred this issue to the Court of Appeal of Amsterdam, which will have to assess the validity of Eneco’s and Delta’s arguments.