Germany’s Constitutional Court on June 7 ruled that a nuclear fuel tax imposed from 2011-16 was illegal. This means the country’s power companies will need to be refunded billions of euros from the government.

News of the ruling boosted shares of major operators E.ON and RWE, which must phase out atomic power by 2022 under a decision Chancellor Angela Merkel made after Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster, reported the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The tax, which levied €145 per gramme of new radioactive fuel, had netted the German government nearly €6.3bn, according to finance ministry data.

E.ON said the tax had cost it over €2.8bn, a sum it wants refunded plus €450m interest.

RWE said it had paid €1.7bn, and EnBW said it had paid €1.4bn.

On the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, RWE shares jumped 6.34% to €19.70, and EON 5.12% to €8.46 on June 8.

In a separate report, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, noted that the ruling is a major victory for the country’s nuclear power operators. It is also the second victory by Germany utilities. In December, the court ruled that a decision to shut down all nuclear plants following Japan’s Fukushima disaster violated some of their property rights. The decision has paved a way for the utilities to claim back stranded investments and power production rights.

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