Switzerland: EU-wide power trading rules urgently needed to prevent future blackouts

A report by the Swiss energy ministry on the blackouts in Italy calls for a thorough application of the new EU rules on cross-border power trading and for a closer co-operation between the EU and Switzerland.

The Swiss authorities on 25 November published a study in response to the UCTE report which blamed Switzerland for the blackouts in Italy on 28 September 2003 (seeEURACTIV 28 October 2003). While this report accepts part of the blame, it also accuses Italy of exceeding agreed levels of import. At the time of the blackout, Italy imported 24 per cent of its total electricity requirement.

The report states that a thorough application of the EU regulation on cross-border trading, which will come into force on 1 July 2004, is urgently required to prevent future blackouts. At the moment, there are no comprehensive and compulsory rules on this at community level.

"The fundamental causes for the blackouts [...] are to be found in the unresolved conflicts between commercial interests of the involved countries and companies on the one hand and the technical and legal framework conditions of operating a secure grid on the other hand," the Swiss energy ministry said in a statement.

The Swiss authorities also suggest a closer cooperation between Switzerland and the EU on energy policy. As a starting point for this, Switzerland have said they will establish a regulator and an independent grid operator and seek active involvement in the newly created European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas (see

EURACTIV 13 November 2003).

The Commission is expected to adopt a communication on improving the security of electricity supply in Europe in its meeting on 3 December 2003.


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