The eagerly awaited draft Renewable Energy Expansion Act (EAG) was recently published for evaluation. To help achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement 2015, the draft creates new framework conditions for the expansion of renewable energy in Austria. In view of the high level of funding, the EAG leaves no doubt that the expansion of renewable energies is one of Austria's main objectives for the next 10 years. However, a look at other countries clearly shows that funding alone will not be enough.
In July 2020 a new foreign direct investment (FDI) screening act, the Investment Control Act (ICA), entered into force. The ICA, which largely transposes the requirements of the EU Foreign Investment Screening Regulation, is in line with the general EU trend of tightening or enacting FDI screening instruments, which has been fuelled by concerns of buy-outs of critical European infrastructure by foreign investors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
EU Regulation 2017/460 established a network code on harmonised transmission tariff structures (TAR NC). On 31 January 2019 E-Control – Austria's national regulatory authority – published its consultation document on the implementation of the TAR NC in Austria. This article discusses the subsequent developments.
Section 3 of the Administrative COVID-19 Accompanying Law adapts the requirements for official acts and public communication with authorities to reflect the restricted freedom of movement and contact. This article examines how the revised version of Section 3 affects environmental law procedures (eg, water, environmental impact assessment, waste, construction and conservation).
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telecoms providers must now send mass alerts (eg, regional access prohibitions) via text message on order of the government and provide traffic and location data for the purposes of evaluating whether individuals are complying with quarantine orders. In addition, a number of legislative developments have taken place with respect to data protection. This article outlines these recent changes.
In the context of local and personal COVID-19 quarantine measures – and the associated absences of officials and affected persons – a federal law (COVID-19-VwBG) was passed setting out special procedural regulations for administrative authorities, administrative courts, the Supreme Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court. This article discusses the implications for the legal procedures set out in the Environmental Law resulting from the new temporary COVID-19-VwBG.
Austria's new coalition government consisting of the People's Party and the Green Party recently published its programme for the legislative period 2020 to 2024. The programme is called Taking Responsibility for Austria and should make Austria a pioneer in climate protection. The Paris Agreement climate targets are to be met at all costs, while the Climate Protection Act should ensure that Austria does not exceed its CO2 budget.
Following a European Court of Justice decision concerning the air quality measurement criteria set out in the EU Air Quality Directive, individuals in affected areas and non-governmental organisations can now take direct action in Austria against wrongfully installed air quality measuring points. The Austrian Higher Administrative Court recently addressed this matter and explained how those concerned in Austria should proceed.
The new government composed of the Austrian People's Party and the Green Party recently presented the government programme for 2020 to 2024, which contains comprehensive measures to promote the expansion of renewable energies. Accordingly, the Renewable Energies Expansion Act, which has been planned for a long time and was drawn up under the penultimate government, is to be enacted as quickly as possible.
For the first time, the Supreme Court has upheld a security right granted under German law, even though the asset had been transferred to Austria. Previously, such rights were terminated once the asset was moved from Germany to Austria. The decision will substantially facilitate the financing of companies with cross-border business.
The information assessed when preparing the latest Flexibility and Storage Market Report on the Austrian gas market suggests that the current competitive situation does not require regulated access to storage facilities. The sufficient availability of storage capacity, customer-oriented product development, market-oriented price formation and offered quantities form a market characterised by competitive pressure.
The Constitutional Court recently dealt with a complaint by an electric vehicle owner who had exceeded an Air Immission Protection Act speed limit. The driver claimed that his vehicle emitted no air pollutants and that the emission-dependent speed limit did not apply to him. The court disagreed. In response to this decision, the federal government created a legal exception for electric cars. However, whether all federal states will introduce an exception to the act's speed limit for electric cars remains unclear.
The national regulatory authority E-Control recently published its consultation document on the implementation of the network code on harmonised transmission tariff structures in Austria. The document is structured in line with the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators consultation template. However, it appears that E-Control paid little attention to maximum transparency and traceability when setting transmission tariffs.
The Austrian regulatory authority E-Control is responsible for ensuring an equal energy market and a fair market price. Each year E-Control reviews and defines the system charges for the use of electricity and gas networks on all network levels. The System Charges Ordinance 2019 and the Gas System Charges Ordinance 2019 bring further relief to system charges.
The proposed new Location Development Act aims to regulate a special selection procedure for individual, location-relevant projects (eg, electricity grids and power plants). While the economy rejoices over faster legal security, non-governmental organisations and lawyers have expressed doubts about the maintenance of the standard of other material laws and the legal admissibility of the government project.
Until 2018, Austria had up to five different cancellation rights for insurance policyholders, plus the cancellation right pursuant to Section 8 of the Distance Financial Services Act. Thus, the legal situation was confusing. However, this has finally changed. Since 1 January 2019, a new Section 5c of the Insurance Contract Act provides for one unified cancellation right.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has created a new understanding and awareness of data protection. Despite being a directly applicable legal act, the GDPR has created significant work for the Austrian federal legislature, which has chosen to impose it by implementing the narrow but general Data Protection Act and introducing amendments to ordinary legal acts individually. However, these amendments are essentially limited to wording adjustments and restrictions on data subjects' rights.
'Influencer marketing' means taking advantage of bloggers and other persons who have their own social media channels to promote goods and services. While the concept of transmitting arguably hidden advertising is problematic, there are many variations of this and the lines between hidden advertising and personal opinion are often blurred. As such, the Advertising Council recently issued guidelines for dealing with influencer marketing as a specific means of marketing communication.
In order to ensure that gas supplies are secure and to achieve a high level of capacity availability, the Gas Act requires the market area manager (MAM) to prepare an annual coordinated network development plan. The MAM recently submitted a draft version of the 2018 plan to E-Control. The latest plan ensures that, among other things, the supply of gas to end consumers is protected, the line capacity is considered and transport requirements are met.
The Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) recently imposed a Lev840,340 fine on A1 Bulgaria for cancelling a partnership agreement with its main commercial representative, Handy-Tel EOOD. The CPC held that the cancellation had effectively violated Article 37a(1) of the Protection of Competition Act, which prohibits the abuse of a dominant position when contracting.