BERLIN--The German government sees no legal basis for paying compensation to utilities for damages related to the country's pullout from nuclear power, a government spokesmen said Wednesday.
"We assume that the decisions on the nuclear exit are compatible both with European law and the German constitution," said environment ministry spokesman Dominik Geissler.
He was responding to filings from utilities seeking multi-billion euro damages, with E.ON AG (EOAN.XE) alone looking to claim about EUR8 billion ($9.99 billion), E.ON spokesman Christian Drepper said.
According to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, E.ON, RWE (RWE.XE) and Vattenfall Europe are demanding around EUR15 billion in total due to the nuclear exit.
RWE has confirmed it filed a lawsuit, but has declined to comment on the amount of compensation it is seeking, while Vattenfall Europe, as reported previously, is also considering filing for damages. "We will decide shortly about this," a spokeswoman for the company told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.
In 2011, following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, the German government decided to phase out nuclear power earlier than planned. The retreat led to the immediate shutdown of eight out of 17 reactors in total, and triggered billions of euros in extra charges for the utilities, which cut investment and pledged to conserve cash in response.
The environment ministry spokesman added the decisions are also in line with a ruling of the constitutional court in 1978, which allows legislation to ban the construction of nuclear plants if they lead to damages which violate the constitutional right for wellbeing or other basic rights.
The deputy government spokesman Georg Streiter said "the federal government has no doubts that the nuclear law is in line with the constitution."
Germany's constitutional court intends to send E.ON's complaint to the federal government, the parliament, and 63 other institutions to allow them to respond, indicating the gravity of the case, an article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added. A spokeswoman for the German constitutional court in Karlsruhe couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
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(Hans Bielefeld and Jan Hromadko in Frankfurt contributed to this article)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 13, 2012 10:25 ET (14:25 GMT)
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