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Press release
 

Energy package: industry committee debates the internal market in gas

Energy - 29-02-2008 - 10:57
Committees
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The EP industry committee pursued its debate on the gas and electricity package on Thursday, focusing on proposals for the EU internal market in gas and the Agency for the Co-operation of Energy Regulators.

"The gas market is of such a unique nature that it requires special treatment", said rapporteur Romano Maria La Russa (UEN, IT). It needs to be seen separately from the electricity market, he explained, owing to the EU's "serious dependency when it comes to security of supply of gas".
 
In his report, Mr La Russa presents ownership unbundling as "the most viable and efficient option" for the internal market in gas, a prescription similar to that made for the electricity market by rapporteur on the electricity directive Eluned Morgan (PES, UK), on Wednesday. Although Mr La Russa, like Ms Morgan, is sceptical about the "Independent System Operator" (ISO) model, whereby a company could avoid unbundling by handing control of its transmission assets to an ISO, he does not propose amendments to that effect.
 
Goodbye to Gazprom clause?
 
"We need to take precautions against gas companies who come in and take over gas pipelines", said Anne Laperrouze (ALDE, FR). Claude Turmes (Greens/EFA, LU), had "discovered that nine countries have signed against unbundling", he said in a reference to the "third way" proposals tabled by eight European countries. "Russia signed too", he said, observing that the "third country clause", (also known as the "Gazprom clause" - requiring reciprocity in energy relations with third countries), "disappears in the 'third way' proposal".
 
Regulate access to storage
 
"Access to storage facilities must be regulated, not negotiated", stressed Mr La Russa. He would not want "to overkill the market by over-stringent rules", but in his view, "a regulated market gives us better guarantees". When it comes to "the sensitive problem of storage", said Vittorio Prodi (ALDE, IT), ownership unbundling becomes even more important because storage makes a "considerable contribution to security of supply".
 
Consumer protection
 
"Gas bills are incomprehensible", noted Mr La Russa, arguing that consumers should get more information about supply contracts and the market shares of operators from other countries to enable them to make informed choices about whether to switch suppliers. Hannes Swoboda (PES, AT) felt that consumer protection should go beyond what Mr La Russa proposed and match the arrangements proposed by Ms Morgan in her report. Mr Swoboda also wanted the question of energy poverty to be addressed, although he would not "think much of split or lower tariffs".
 
A bigger role for the Energy Regulators' Agency
 
Alejo Vidal-Quadras (EPP–ED, ES) and Renato Brunetta (EPP–ED, IT), rapporteurs on the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators and on Conditions for network access for cross-border exchanges in electricity, respectively, agreed on the need to increase the Agency's powers.
 
This body, said Mr Vidal-Quadras, should have the power "to develop guidelines and adopt codes [e.g. on security, capacity and congestion management, interoperability, and emergency procedures] to harmonise technical and market rules", in order "to facilitate market integration". He added that the existence of 27 different regulatory frameworks "is one of the main obstacles to integration of the energy markets".
 
Renato Brunetta (EPP–ED), advocated granting the Agency powers to approve the Transmission System Operators' 10-year investment plans, and also greater financial independence. "The seat of the Agency shall be located in Brussels", says his report.
 
Edit Herczog (PES, HU) agreed on the need to have "a strong agency".
 
28/02/2008
Committee on Industry, Research and Energy
In the chair : Angelika Niebler (EPP-ED, DE)
REF.: 20080228IPR22475