The Commissioner is not for turning

There will be no U-turn in the policy to create an integrated internal market in gas and electricity by 2014, the EU Energy Commissioner, Gunter Oettinger, has told members of the Union of the Electricity Industry – Eurelectric, at a conference in Brussels. “Frankly, we do not have much choice,” he told delegates.

“If we do not continue to build the internal energy market – for energy consumers and energy producers – we will waste vast sums of money, and the high costs of providing secure energy will undermine the competitiveness of our industry and the living standards of our citizens,” said Oettinger.

He argued that fully functioning cross-border power and gas markets would create jobs and reduce inflationary pressures. He said that transmission bottlenecks should be removed but accepted that some regional price zones might be unavoidable.

The Commission would propose steps to shorten permitting processes to enable the required transmission infrastructure to be built, said the Commissioner. “There will be no steamrollering of citizens or stakeholders or undermining environmental protection.”

Oettinger hit out at Member States who had still not adopted the national legislation to transpose the Third Energy package into national legislation. “I repeat my call to all member states to take their responsibility and make all efforts to fully implement the Third package,” he said. He warned that failure to do so risked seriously undermining the common objective of completing the common market in the next years.

The Third package has already resulted in the unbundling of transmission and supply/production activities among vertically integrated energy companies in Europe. The potential consequences of this have been criticized by Russian energy minister Sergei Shmatko.

He told the World Petroleum Congress in Qatar in December that the third energy package had drastically changed the long-term stable relations between suppliers and consumers and that it could affect energy stability.

The rules are a setback to Russia’s plans to develop a role for Gazprom as a major European gas supplier and power producer in Western Europe.

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