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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Energy liberalisation in EU-again bad news,again thanks to France and Germany

Bad news for Europe:
  • Paris and Berlin win EU energy liberalisation deal
  • EU cracks down on French and German gas giants

Paris and Berlin win EU energy liberalisation deal

9 June 2008

EU energy ministers bowed to pressure from France and Germany at a meeting on Friday, agreeing on a "general approach" to opening gas and electricity markets that prevents integrated firms such as EDF and E.ON from selling off their transmission grids.

While details of the deal still need to be hammered out, the broad outlineword of the agreement is based on a 'third way' compromise proposal elaborated jointly by the Commission and the outgoing Slovenian EU Presidency in May (EurActiv 16/05/08).

It would allow former state monopolies such as EDF or GDF in France and E.ON or RWE in Germany to retain ownership of their gas and electricity grids. However, they would have to leave their management to an independent transmission operator (ITO) with "effective decision-making rights" over day-to day activities such as network operation and maintenance.

The alternative model should be subjected to a review by the Commission two years after entry into force of the directive, according to the agreement.

Ministers also discussed the role and powers of a new EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) to oversee the functioning of energy markets, notably with respect to cross-border cooperation between transmission system operators (TSOs). The agency should be independent from the Commission and member states, but its powers should not supersede those of national regulators.

This is contrary to the wishes of a majority of MEPs in Parliament's Industry (ITRE) Committee, who on 28 May voted favour of strong regulatory powers for ACER (EurActiv 29/05/08).

The full Parliament will have its say on the Council's agreement during plenary votes later this month and in July. A slight majority of ITRE Committee MEPs consider ownership unbundling as the preferred option and remain sceptical of the ITO model (EurActiv 07/05/08).


My comment: Great. Again screwed. I don't know how long Europe will tolerate the ignorant behaviour of France and Germany. I mean, the EU are no longer mostly France and Germany. Interestingly enough, after all those years, France and Germany definitely work together. Together against Europe. That's so so sad and upsetting.

EU cracks down on French and German gas giants

12 June 2008

The European Commission said on Thursday it is stepping up an investigation against E.ON and Gaz de France, saying it suspects the two energy utilities of illegally sharing the German and French markets in natural gas.

In a statement on 12 June, the Commission confirmed the investigation relates to "a suspected agreement and/or concerted practice between E.ON and GDF, according to which they would not sell gas in the other party's home market".

"The Commission's preliminary view is that this market-sharing agreement is in violation of EC Treaty rules banning restrictive business practices and cartels," the EU executive said. The investigation is open-ended.

The cartel allegations relate in particular to supplies of natural gas via the MEGAL pipeline, which is jointly owned by E.ON and GDF and transports Russian gas to France and Germany. The probe was opened in July last year following surprise office raids carried out in 2006 (EurActiv 30/07/07). The procedure is now being stepped up with the sending of a formal "letter of objections".

In a statement, Gaz de France said the investigation "concerns events that occurred several years ago before the complete deregulation of the European energy market," adding that these "have now been superseded". Gaz de France will respond during the summer or in September, said Armelle Dillar, a spokeswoman for the company.

E.ON Ruhrgas said it "rejects" the charges, pointing out that the agreements with GDF "were terminated by the companies in 2004 for the sake of clarity".

The probe comes as Brussels seeks to foster more competition onto EU energy markets in an effort to diversify supplies, encourage investment in new infrastructure and ultimately force prices down.

Launching a wave of antitrust investigations into the energy sector in February 2006, Neelie Kroes, the EU competition commissioner, said antitrust actions go hand in hand with regulatory measures to ensure more liquidity on EU energy markets.

"Competition enforcement is just one partner […] It dances not alone, but in step with regulation. Andris Piebalgs and I myself are fully committed to just that," Kroes said at the time (EurActiv 17/02/06). source

My comment: Yeah, they are strong enough to control France and Germany's governments, they will be very likely to be brought to court by anyone. Anyway, it's better than nothing. But I really fear this ultimate power of monopolists and it's effect over the European politics. It's simply not what I want to see in Europe. Europe should be stronger!

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