EU warns states on energy competition


The European Union has stepped up legal pressure against eight countries that have failed to implement laws to increase energy competition, warning that they may face legal action at the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

In a statement Monday, the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, cited Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Estonia as having failed to comply with European rules and implement national law reforms agreed more than two years ago under the EU’s third energy liberalization package, The Financial Times reported.

The deadline to introduce the EU’s energy package, which demands that countries separate the production of electricity or gas from its distribution to facilitate greater competition, passed nearly a year ago.

Member states were supposed to force national utilities to break up their holdings in order to comply with the rules. The eight member states now have two months to respond to the Commission, or risk being referred to the ECJ for fines.

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“Opening energy markets for competition is key to competitiveness of the EU economy as a whole,” the Commission said.

It argues that all member states should follow the same rules because EU countries increasingly import and export gas and electricity to each other.

According to the BBC, the changes under the EU’s third energy liberalization package are geared towards allowing consumers to choose from a greater variety of energy suppliers, as theoretically any company could purchase electricity and gas on the wholesale market and sell it on to consumers.

The legislation also calls for firms to enable gas pipelines to reverse the direction of their flow, so that countries can transport supplies to neighbors in the event of a crisis more easily and quickly. 

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