Law 4643/2019 on the liberalisation of the Greek energy market, the modernisation of the Public Power Corporation, the privatisation of the Public Natural Gas Company and the support of the renewable energy sector was recently published in the Official Journal. The new legal provisions aim, among other things, to facilitate and expedite the licensing procedure for numerous power production applications already pending before the Regulatory Energy Agency.
Under the new law on the liberalisation of the energy market, the Public Natural Gas Company (DEPA) will be spun off into three distinct undertakings, two of which will be completely privatised. This transformation will significantly alter DEPA's unbundling and privatisation scheme, which was adopted in March 2019 (ie, before the elections and respective reconfigurations in Parliament and government).
The renewable energy sources (RES) sector of the Greek energy market is undergoing continuous and significant reform. Among other changes, the Hellenic Energy Exchange has commenced operations, RES producers now participate in the day-ahead market and the Greek islands' renewables sector has been expanded.
An important consideration before doing business in Greece is choosing the most suitable corporate entity. However, there are several other key elements to consider. A one-stop service is available (with limitations) for the incorporation of all company types, provided that they use basic (ie, template) articles of association; however, there are no 'off-the-shelf' companies in Greece. This article outlines the basic types of Greek corporate entity (excluding maritime entities).
The minister of environment and energy recently amended the competitive procedures for determining operating state aid granted as feed-in premiums for 2019 and 2020. Further, the latest competitive procedures resulted in significant price reductions for photovoltaic (PV) and wind projects. However, owners of small PV plants have claimed that they have been disadvantaged by the merging of all PV plant categories into one.
The Code of Civil Procedure sets out a number of conditions that must be met in order for a foreign arbitral award to be recognised and enforced in Greece. The conditions that applicants must satisfy in this regard are in line with the New York Convention, to which Greece is a signatory. This article provides comprehensive guidance on the recognition and enforcement process's requirements.
In April and May 2019 solar and wind renewable energy systems producers will compete for the first time for operating state aid and a place in the Greek energy market in a joint competitive tender procedure organised by the Energy Regulatory Authority. Despite certain doubts, the market signs indicate that a significant number of players and capacities plan to participate in the upcoming joint competition.
A draft law on the further unbundling and privatisation of the public natural gas company DEPA was recently submitted to Parliament. The draft law proposes that DEPA be divided into two companies: DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade. The main opposition to the draft law centres on the fact that the state will retain a 14% stake in DEPA Trade, which some have argued will allow the state to retain too much control and potentially veto strategic policy issues.
Under Article 897 of the Code of Civil Procedure, an arbitral award can be annulled in whole or in part by a decision from the competent national court only if it is contrary to, among other things, public order provisions or bonos mores. Examples of public order provisions that would justify the annulment of an arbitral award include jus cogens rules which have been enacted in order to protect the public interest.
The second regular wind and photovoltaic (PV) state aid auction held in December 2018 resulted in the award of all of the capacities for two of the three categories of renewable energy system project, a significant (up to 26%) reduction in the reference prices compared with the initial reference prices and the cancellation of the auction for large PV projects by the Regulatory Energy Authority due to insufficient competition.
The new renewable energy sources state aid scheme was introduced in Greece in 2016 by way of Law 4414/2016. On 18 October 2018 the Regulatory Energy Agency launched the second regular competitive procedures for determining the reference prices of state aid for wind and solar energy producers in Greece, which offers a total tender capacity of 423 megawatts. The first regular competition procedures were conducted on 2 July 2018.
Pursuant to the commitments undertaken by the Greek state after the first memorandum of understanding between the Hellenic Republic, the member states of the European Union, the Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank was signed, the privatisation of energy companies in Greece has significantly progressed. The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund – the legal entity entrusted with implementing the privatisation programme of the Hellenic Republic – has undertaken a number of relevant projects.
The advantages of arbitral proceedings, including speed, may be compromised when an arbitral award is challenged. The recent changes to the Civil Procedure Code aimed at accelerating judicial proceedings have not yet shown considerable progress. In any case, the Greek courts are reluctant to set aside arbitral awards or refuse their enforcement, thus indicating that recourse to arbitration for local and international cases is a valuable instrument in alternative dispute resolution.
By a majority two-to-one vote, the Athens Court of Appeal has found that an insurer's refusal to provide health insurance to a homosexual and histrionic man did not amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation or infringe the plaintiff's personality rights. The dissenting opinion, which provided a detailed analysis of the non-discrimination principle, makes a statement about the universal principal of equality between individuals which, despite its age, appears to be more acute than ever.
Greece began reorganising its renewable energy system state aid scheme in 2016 by enacting Law 4414/2016. The minister of environment and energy has provided the legal framework for implementing the law and organising the competitive procedures to determine the reference prices for certain projects receiving operating aid. The first regular competitive procedures were initiated in April 2018, following the Regulatory Energy Agency's launch of three tenders. The tenders will be implemented in two phases.
Parliament recently passed a law regulating the procedure for the divestment of approximately 40% of Public Power Corporation's (PPC) lignite-fired production units and lignite exploitation rights. The aim of the law is to increase competition in the Greek electricity market. Currently, over 60% of the electricity produced in Greece is generated through the combustion of locally extracted lignite, while PPC accounts for 98% of all lignite production in the country.
The Greek energy sector is expected to expand over the next few years as a result of, among other things, the optimisation of the energy mix – which consists of a reduction in fossil fuel-generated electricity and an increase in energy from renewable energy sources (RES) – and the liberalisation of the electricity and natural gas markets. Greece is also expected to create energy investment opportunities due to the availability of RES potential in the country and ongoing substantial infrastructure projects.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that the provisions that require arbitrators' details to be included in the award also apply by analogy to tribunal secretaries. Following the judgment, arbitrators should always refer in detail to the particulars of the secretary employed in the arbitration (which is always a best practice) in order to avoid unnecessary complications that may lead to the setting aside of the award.
During 2017, a group of experts worked on the modelling and organisation of the Energy Exchange with the intention that it would be established and begin operating in the first half of 2018. As such, the Ministry of Energy and Environment recently presented, through a public consultation, the draft Energy Exchange Law, which would amend the Target Model Law and the Energy Law.
In 2016 Law 4389/2016 introduced the sale by auction of electricity forward products with physical delivery by the Greek vertically integrated Public Power Corporation (PPC) to eligible electricity suppliers. The purpose of these auctions is to reduce the PPC's retail market share in the interconnected system, enhance competition and provide better quality products and lower prices to consumers.