Max W.F. Oosterhuis (1960), attorney, is a member of the Corporate Law practice
group. He specialises in liberalisation and the privatisation of utilities and
the regulatory environment for businesses operating in the overlapping fields
of liberalised markets and regulated public domain.
Max is a lecturer in post-graduate studies, a member of the Board of the Dutch
Association of Energy Lawyers (NeVER) and a member of the International Bar
Association (IBA) and the Technical Economic Association (TEA). He is editor
of the Energy Law Magazine (Tijdschrift voor Energierecht).
Energy & Natural Resources
The European Court of Justice has ruled on preliminary questions in a dispute between three Dutch energy companies – Essent, Eneco and Delta – and the state over the compatibility of Dutch energy law and the EU Treaty. The case will now be continued before the Netherlands Supreme Court.
In 2012 the Dutch Supreme Court referred to the European Court of Justice preliminary questions in a dispute between three Dutch energy companies and the Dutch state over the compatibility with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union of certain provisions in the Electricity Act 1998 and the Gas Act. Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen has now presented his legal opinion on these questions.
Energy was an important topic throughout the recent parliamentary election campaign, particularly the country's ability to reach EU targets for sustainable energy and carbon dioxide emissions. The coalition negotiations in the coming weeks will decide the energy policy for the next four years, and the parties' pre-election plans give some indication of the course that the Netherlands may follow.
The Court of Cassation recently decided to ask the European Court of Justice preliminary questions regarding the Netherlands' mandatory legal ownership unbundling of energy networks, which has been fiercely debated for some years now. The proceedings may buy the remaining integrated companies time to roll out their preferred strategies on the matter.
In response to concerns raised in Parliament on the market position of Dutch large industry, the Dutch minister of economic affairs, agriculture and innovation has indicated that he will not allow exemptions, comparable to those in Germany, from transmission tariffs for large industrial consumers. The minister has brought the German exemption to the attention of the European Commission.
The minister of economic affairs, agriculture and innovation has announced four important amendments to the Electricity Act and the Gas Act. One of the legislative proposals is to amend both acts to facilitate the minority privatisation of the two transmission system operators, Gasunie and TenneT. The minister will issue a policy letter towards the end of 2011 explaining the starting points of and guidelines for the privatisation.
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