EU energy regulator ACER, until now largely toothless, will be given legal powers to enforce plans for a single energy market that breaks down national barriers under a proposal from the bloc’s executive arm.
At a conference on Thursday in Slovenia, where the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators is based, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šef?ovi? and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete laid out their plans to bolster ACER.
Next week in Brussels the Commission will publish its thoughts on how to improve cross-border power and gas flows to try to bring down energy costs and curb the need for fossil fuels imported from nations such as Russia.
This is to be followed next year by a formal legislative proposal on redesigning energy markets that will include a strengthened role for ACER.
Arias Cañete said the EU’s planned energy reforms could save Europe €40 billion per year.
“We would like to see ACER have more powers for cross-border projects, to be much more instrumental in making sure that regulations are implemented,” Šef?ovi? said on the sidelines of the energy conference.
“In cross-border interconnections […] you clearly need somebody who can work with regulators (of various countries), with transmission system operators to make sure that the process is accelerated,” he added.
For now, ACER can only issue recommendations to member states’ energy regulators. In future, the Commission seeks to empower it to enforce EU energy law across the 28-country bloc.
Arias Cañete told the conference the role of regulators “has never been more important”.
The Commission’s concerns include so-called “capacity mechanisms”, which some EU nations use to subsidise energy providers for maintaining power supply. The system is not always competitive but has a role in ensuring grid reliability.
“This has the potential to distort the internal energy market. That is why we are considering the merits of a European or regional framework for capacity remuneration mechanisms,” Arias Cañete said.