RWE Nuclear-Fuel Tax Case Sent to EU Court by German Judges

RWE AG’s lawsuit challenging Germany’s nuclear-fuel tax will be referred by German judges to the Europe Union’s highest court for review.

The Hamburg Tax Court will ask the judges at the European Court of Justice whether the tax is in line with EU rules, Presiding Judge Christoph Schoenfeld said at a hearing today. The tribunal will also ask whether it can send the case to the EU court after it sent a parallel case to Germany’s top constitutional court in January, he said.

The judges couldn’t “ascertain beyond doubt whether the nuclear fuel tax is in line with European Union law or whether it needs to be set aside,” Matthias Tiemann, the court spokesman, wrote in a statement.

EON AG and RWE are fighting the tax in various German courts. German utilities won rulings in Hamburg and Munich, while a Stuttgart court cleared the tax. Today’s decision doesn’t suspend payment duties under the rules, the Hamburg court said. RWE and EON have paid a total of about 3 billion euros ($4 billion).

Tax Authorities

The companies can ask the tax authorities to suspend tax payments while the case is pending, Tiemann said.

RWE briefly rose as much as 2 percent after the Hamburg court’s decision and was 44 cents down at 27.34 euros at 4:21 p.m. in Frankfurt trading. EON also jumped briefly as much as 0.9 percent and was down 11 cents at 13.95 at 4:23 p.m.

The court hasn’t formulated the questions in detail and still needs to put its decision in writing, Tiemann said. On average, the proceeding before the ECJ about 15 months, he said.

RWE will wait for the written judgment before deciding on what next steps to take, said Lothar Lambertz, a spokesman for the company. EON welcomes the decision and will seek to avoid further payments of the tax, Markus Nitschke, a company spokesman, said by phone.

RWE owns 87.5 percent and EON 12.5 percent of the power plant at issue in today’s case.

Today’s case is FG Hamburg, 4 K 122/13.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.