EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs has announced his intention to propose a new EU-wide energy regulator, with equal powers to national regulators, and to push for greater independence of national watchdogs.
In an interview published by Spanish daily ABC on Sunday, Piebalgs said the lessons learned from the current financial crisis showed that more competition was needed in the energy sector. With only a few giant companies in Europe, governments are obliged to intervene to rescue them whenever they run into trouble, the commissioner argues.
“I will propose a new regulation as much as for the national regulators, with the aim of strengthening their effective independence and their capacity to intervene, as for a new Agency for Cooperation of the European Regulators, which needs to have equal power to national regulators in energy issues,” Piebalgs is quoted as saying.
The Spanish energy regulator CNE has been under scrutiny from the European Commission for some time after it failed to remove restrictive conditions for a takeover bid for Spanish energy company Endesa by Germany’s E.ON. Last March, the European Court of Justice ruled against Spain in this case (EURACTIV 07/03/08).
The proposals by Piebalgs appear to go further than the Commission’s original proposal, while MEPs in the industry (ITRE) committee backed calls for a strong EU-wide regulator in a vote on 28 May (EURACTIV 29/05/08).
France in particular is in favour of a European agency for cooperation between European energy regulators. Philippe de Ladoucette, president of the ‘Commission de régulation de l’énergie‘, the French energy regulator, argued that the creation of such an agency was justified by the fact that the Commission could not be judge and party (EURACTIV 08/10/07).