Uses and Abuses of EU Competition Law in Energy
21 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2019
Date Written: January 28, 2019
While the European Union early took interest in the energy sector, the introduction of competition only came around much later, representing a fundamental paradigm shift. Until the mid-nineties, energy activities were in most countries reserved for designated utility companies often coupled with regulatory tasks as system overview and dispatching. Subsequently, liberalisation came about through three successive ‘energy packages’, where the actual market opening in the first (1996/1998) remained somewhat limited and an equally large number of issues dormant, e.g. on third party access to the infrastructure and isolation of regulatory tasks. Not until second energy packages (2003) was this remedied without addressing other issues, e.g. the infrastructure remaining vertically integrated, an issue that came within the scope of the third energy package (2009) along with enhanced cross-border participation and furtherance of regulatory functions. Creating a single energy market has been a story of slow movements, and sector regulation representing what politically was attainable rather than optimal, and therefore often suffering from regulatory lacunas. The story of competition law applied to electricity and gas has therefore also been a story of incomplete markets where competition law have been used to bridge some of the regulatory deficits and its even doubtful, if any single energy market ever would have come about void of competition law giving teeth to the Commission’s bite and bidding for amendments across the three packages.
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