Disappointment over EFTA Court ruling on power rights
27 June 2007
The international EFTA Court in Luxembourg has ruled that Norway’s regulations on ownership of hydropower concessions, which demand that private owners must turn their concessions back to the state after 60 years, are contrary to regulations of the European Economic Area (EEA).
The suit had been brought against Norway by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA), which monitors compliance with the EEA treaty.
Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland constitute the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which is linked to the EU market through the EEA Treaty.
The Norwegian regulations allow public owners of hydropower to hold licenses in perpetuity. ESA said this discriminates against private owners or prospective buyers of Norwegian hydropower rights, who see their licenses revert to the state after 60 years.
Oil and Petroleum Minister Odd Roger Enoksen said he was very disappointed by the court’s ruling. Enoksen said that every effort would be made to secure continued public control of Norwegian hydropower but he did not say what actions Norway would take.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was also disappointed.
I disagree with the court’s view that today’s practice infringes on the EEA regulations. We must now formulate new regulations which will ensure national rights to the Norwegian energy resources, Stoltenberg said.