UK backs European energy liberalization laws

5 June 2003 – The decision on Wednesday by the European parliament to give final approval to measures introducing European energy liberalisation has been welcomed as “good news for British companies and consumers” by Britain’s Energy minister, Brian Wilson.

The final hurdle to European energy liberalisation was cleared when the European Parliament voted to approve the package of measures agreed by Energy Ministers last November. The vote is intended to achieve a level playing field for energy companies across Europe, strengthening competition, and allowing both domestic and industrial customers to benefit. The measures were first proposed at the Lisbon Summit in April 2000 when European leaders agreed to accelerate the completion of the internal energy market. The Commission subsequently brought forward the necessary proposals

“These proposals will lead to increased competition throughout the EU and lower gas and electricity prices for European consumers. As we become a net importer of gas, these benefits will also feed through to British consumers,” said Wilson.

“It is excellent news for British energy companies. Once the proposals are implemented across Europe by the middle of next year, our companies will be well placed to thrive by competing on a level playing field in the expanded and competitive EU energy market.”

“The amendments voted through by the European Parliament have made sensible and welcome clarifications to the texts agreed by myself and other Energy Ministers in November last year whilst retaining the commitment to open up the energy market to competition for all consumers by mid 2007.

“This vote is a testament to the hard work done by the European Parliament, Council and the Commission to reform Europe’s energy markets, one of the key elements in the EU’s economic reform agenda.”

The new measures include Directives (which amended previous Directives concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and gas) and a regulation on conditions for access to the network for cross-border exchanges in electricity.

The key elements of the Energy Liberalisation package are that industrial and commercial customers will be able to choose their supply by 1 July 2004 and all customers able to do so by 1 July 2007 ands that there should be legal unbundling of electricity and gas transmission system operators by 1 July 2004 and of distribution system operators by 1 July 2007.

Each member state will be required to establish an independent regulatory authority and publish tariffs for access to grids and pipelines.

The measures introduce principles and decision-making mechanisms on cross-border electricity trading arrangements, including a regulatory committee which will adopt and amend guidelines.