The future judgement in Joined Cases C-204-208/12 Essent Belgium N.V. v. Vlaamse Reguleringsinstantie voor de Elektriciteits- en Gasmarkt could very well be one of those landmark cases in which the CJEU clarifies one of the fundamental doctrinal issues in internal market law: can Member States rely upon the rule of reason to justify distinctly applicable measures? In his Opinion, Advocate General Bot makes a convincing case that this should (under strict conditions) indeed be the case.
In this case, the Belgian government fined Essent Belgium for failure to comply with Belgian legislation requiring electricity suppliers to purchase a certain amount of green energy from Belgian suppliers. As many readers will no doubt notice, this case is very similar to PreussenElektra, however, the legislative context and European electricity market have undergone substantial changes since that judgment was handed down. Today, EU legislation enables Member States to verify whether electricity produced in other Member States is green. Also, EU legislation now requires Member States to reach certain national targets for contribution to green electricity production.