Overview of the internal energy market design legislation

23-01-2017

The new proposals build on previous legislation and continue to gradually implement an internal energy market. In particular, they look to incorporate recent changes, such as the rapid increase in renewables and technological advances relating to the digitalisation of services. They also attempt to clarify previous legislation such as in the case of storage for Transmission System Operators (TSOs) for example. As with the recent proposals on security of gas supply, the Commission looks to incorporate a regional approach as the default option for assessing needs and mitigating risks. The Commission's evaluation, as well as the review of the implementation process, have shown that, while progress has been made, challenges to create a properly functioning internal market remain. The challenges identified by the evaluation, such as price controls, insufficient cross-border trade, uncoordinated national interventions and issues around regulatory independence, are addressed by the current proposals. However, it is also clear from the evaluation that progress towards a well-functioning and competitive energy market has not been consistent across the EU. Where progress has been made, the effects have been positive, although the evaluation does not look at examples of best practice to assess the best way forward. The EU- wide oversight of national regulators and TSOs is seen as positive, but question marks remain in terms of whether the suggested changes will be sufficient. Several reviews on the topic have noted that the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) lack sufficient powers to be effective and it is unclear whether the current proposals will properly address this issue. The public consultations also pointed to the dual role of the European Network for Transmission System Operators for electricity (ENTSO-E), as both a lobby organisation and a representative of public interest,  as potentially problematic. The creation of a European Distribution System Operator (DSO) could possibly duplicate this issue. The evaluation does not include any assessment around infrastructure legislation or the EU's role in this area; however, it notes that the incentives for private investments have been insufficient so far. It is hoped that the proposed moves to a more flexible and price-driven market should improve investment conditions. As reforms in this area have been ongoing since the 1990s, it will be particularly important to continue to monitor progress and to what extent the new proposals increase competition and a well-functioning, price-led market. In terms of the Parliament's demands, many of its requests are reflected in the proposals, such as calls for more regional cooperation, for example. They do not, however, include a review of the gas market or interconnectivity objectives differentiated by regions; nor do they look to address to any great extent the issue of external import. In the case of the ACER, Parliament had asked for a substantial increase in resources. While the proposals strengthen the agency's position, the Commission decided not to propose making the ACER into a pan-European regulator, with the increase in budget and staff that such a move would have entailed.

The new proposals build on previous legislation and continue to gradually implement an internal energy market. In particular, they look to incorporate recent changes, such as the rapid increase in renewables and technological advances relating to the digitalisation of services. They also attempt to clarify previous legislation such as in the case of storage for Transmission System Operators (TSOs) for example. As with the recent proposals on security of gas supply, the Commission looks to incorporate a regional approach as the default option for assessing needs and mitigating risks. The Commission's evaluation, as well as the review of the implementation process, have shown that, while progress has been made, challenges to create a properly functioning internal market remain. The challenges identified by the evaluation, such as price controls, insufficient cross-border trade, uncoordinated national interventions and issues around regulatory independence, are addressed by the current proposals. However, it is also clear from the evaluation that progress towards a well-functioning and competitive energy market has not been consistent across the EU. Where progress has been made, the effects have been positive, although the evaluation does not look at examples of best practice to assess the best way forward. The EU- wide oversight of national regulators and TSOs is seen as positive, but question marks remain in terms of whether the suggested changes will be sufficient. Several reviews on the topic have noted that the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) lack sufficient powers to be effective and it is unclear whether the current proposals will properly address this issue. The public consultations also pointed to the dual role of the European Network for Transmission System Operators for electricity (ENTSO-E), as both a lobby organisation and a representative of public interest,  as potentially problematic. The creation of a European Distribution System Operator (DSO) could possibly duplicate this issue. The evaluation does not include any assessment around infrastructure legislation or the EU's role in this area; however, it notes that the incentives for private investments have been insufficient so far. It is hoped that the proposed moves to a more flexible and price-driven market should improve investment conditions. As reforms in this area have been ongoing since the 1990s, it will be particularly important to continue to monitor progress and to what extent the new proposals increase competition and a well-functioning, price-led market. In terms of the Parliament's demands, many of its requests are reflected in the proposals, such as calls for more regional cooperation, for example. They do not, however, include a review of the gas market or interconnectivity objectives differentiated by regions; nor do they look to address to any great extent the issue of external import. In the case of the ACER, Parliament had asked for a substantial increase in resources. While the proposals strengthen the agency's position, the Commission decided not to propose making the ACER into a pan-European regulator, with the increase in budget and staff that such a move would have entailed.