French energy regulator: ‘Commission cannot be judge and party’

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Commenting on the European Commission’s third energy package, Philippe de Ladoucette, president of the ‘Commission de régulation de l’énergie’, the French energy regulator, says that he is in favour of an EU agency for cooperation between European energy regulators. He spoke to EURACTIV France in an interview.

Philippe de Ladoucette is president of the French energy regulator ‘Commission de régulation de l’énergie’.

Harmonising and strengthening the powers and duties of national regulators, ensuring that national regulators are truly independent and mandating all national regulators with a binding requirement to cooperate with one another are the main measures proposed by the Commission in its third energy package (EURACTIV 24/09/07).

Commenting on the package, Ladoucette specified that the French regulator, contrary to other European regulators, defended the possibility of building a European energy market without necessarily forcing network owners to sell their assets (so-called ‘ownership unbundling’). 

He says that the current French system ensures the independence of its distribution network while retaining the unity of its historic operator due to the important role given to the regulator. He added that this system implies a relatively “intrusive” regulation. 

According to Ladoucette, the fact that France is the only country to defend a ‘third way’ between ownership unbundling and the status quo is due to its specific situation. “The regulators ensure the effective separation between production activities and networks of transmission, thanks to the competence it has to act on companies.” 

Ladoucette added that the French regulator was in favour of a European agency for cooperation between European energy regulators. 

“The creation of this agency is justified by the fact that the Commission cannot be judge and party. This agency is still required to have real power of supervision on European networks. For this reason, it is important to precisely define the role of national regulators. According to us, the transporters have to be regulated and controlled by the European agency together with the national regulator. Regulators can not be considered on the same scale as transporters.”

“We wish for this [EU] agency to get involved directly in regulating the energy market at European level, improving and harmonising market rules and rules for exploitation safety, and therefore preventing blackouts. It should take care, in particular, of cross-border interconnections and watch over the effective development of European networks thanks to the monitoring of long-term investment projects.” 

The congestion resulting from the lack of investment in the European interconnection network causes “worrying problems”, said Ladoucette. 

He described France as the leader in the implementation of transnational regional markets, and said that these regional markets should be the starting point for a European market. 

“Regional initiatives are the key toward the evolution of a European energy market because it will enable us to succeed in the integration of the European energy market.”

To read the full interview on the EURACTIV France website, please click here.

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