The Commission states that the free market in gas is hardly operating, if at all, in Belgium (cf. SEC(2006)1709 and COM(2006)0841 final). This was recently confirmed by the announcement of a 13% to 20% rise in the price of the natural gas supplied by Electrabel. Despite the theoretical opening of the market, Electrabel still enjoys a de facto monopoly.
What is the status of the relevant infringement proceedings against Belgium and what are the next practical steps which the Commission will be taking?
What national or European steps does the Commission consider feasible in the short term with the aim of averting the unjustified price rises?
A merger between Gaz de France and Suez would fundamentally alter the situation on the Belgian gas market and solve a number of problems, as such a merger would have to be carried out in accordance with conditions negotiated by the Commission. What will the Commission do with regard to the situation in Belgium if the merger does not go ahead?