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The liberalization of energy markets approved

At the end of April the European Parliament passed in the second reading the energy package dealing with the further functioning of the single EU energy market, mainly the strengthening of its competitiveness and security. In the hitherto most controversial issue of fission energy companies, the members of Parliament receded from the original strict requirement of full ownership unbundling of production capacity from the transmission networks owned. The approved compromise also brings a strengthening of consumers’ rights.

As far as the question of ownership structure is concerned, the Member States will have at their disposal all three proposed variants of separation and everyone will be able to choose a different form of liberalization for their national markets. In addition to the full unbundling, in which energy companies would be required to sell their transmission networks to other entities, there is the option to hand over control of the transmission grid to a so-called independent system operator (ISO). The current owner would not be forced to perform property-related changes but would lose influence over the transmission network. The third variant, which in terms of achieving independence of system operators is the mildest and most controversial, is a similar solution that would appoint an operator for the network management, although the owner would retain some influence.

Strengthening of consumer protection lies, among others, in the embedding of the right to simply and freely change the supplier of electricity or gas within three weeks. The suppliers have to improve informing their customers; besides all the relevant data on consumption, an account has to contain understandable information allowing a comparison of energy performance of particular sources. Customers have to be informed of their rights and means for solving complaints and disputes that have to also include independent non-judicial mechanisms such as the Office of Ombudsman for Energy. The energy saving for consumers should help introduce so-called smart meters. The Member States are obliged to take measures for solving energy shortages and to ensure supplements of energy for endangered customers.

The Council already adopted the legislative changes by the end of June and they only require publication in the Official Journal to become effective. The deadline for implementation into national legislation has been set at 18 months.

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