The European Commission has taken legal action against 17 member states for dragging their feet in applying EU electricity and gas market liberalisation legislation into national law.
Most EU countries have not yet fully opened their electricity and gas markets to competition, effectively blocking new business from entering the market and bring prices down, the Commission warned on Tuesday (4 April).
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia and the United Kingdom were all sent so-called “letters of formal notice”, the first step in the legal procedure (link: detailed country overview).
Governments have two months to respond after which the Commission may consider further steps that could eventually lead to fines being slapped. The Commission indicated that the main problems encountered are:
- price discrimination to the benefit of historical customers;
- lack of legal unbundling and insufficient managerial separation between electricity and gas transmission and distribution system operators to ensure that they are independent of each other;
- preferential access to networks for historical customers and insufficiently transparent tariffs
- lack of free choice of supplier
- insufficient independence or competence granted to national regulators, in particular to set tariffs for accessing the networks