Court rules energy firm voting rights cap illegal
The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that a Spanish law restricting the voting rights of foreign companies with stakes in domestic energy firms breached EC regulations.15 February 2008
MADRID - The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that a Spanish law restricting the voting rights of foreign companies with stakes in domestic energy firms breached EC regulations.
The decision by Europe's highest court backs the European Commission's crusade against economic nationalism.
The offending law requires state-controlled foreign firms which acquire more than 3 percent of a company in the Spanish energy sector to seek approval from the government to exercise their corresponding voting rights.
The Court argued that the law infringed the EC Treaty regulation guaranteeing the free movement of capital within the European Union.
Spain considers the law necessary to guarantee its energy requirements. "Restricting voting rights is not an appropriate means of safeguarding the energy supply," The European court's written judgment said.
Economy Minister Pedro Solbes said yesterday, "I don't expect we will appeal the decision. He said the government would introduce the measures necessary to comply with the ruling.
The European Commission last month threatened to take Spain to court over conditions it imposed on Italy's Enel and Spanish conglomerate Acciona's joint takeover of Endesa, the country largest electricity supplier.
[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]
Subject: Spanish news