It is also clear that Mr Kovacs' replies to Parliament come straight from the services of DG Transport and Energy (TREN), in that they are so precise and well-documented. But the services' interests go further: if they continue the current energy doctrine within DG TREN, they will lead Commissioner Kovacs down a specific path.

Insufficient measures.

With this document, the Commission admits that current legislation, even transposed correctly - and Mr Kovacs will "personally" take care of this - will not guarantee open competition in the gas and electricity sectors. It remarks on the "wide discretion" accorded to Member States for transposition, mainly over the separation of network activities from other activities within vertically-integrated companies (unbundling).

The document also notes the effect on the "powers and independence of Regulators" and concludes that "differing levels of effective market opening are therefore likely to remain". The next proposals (third liberalisation Directive) will be drawn up by the end of 2005, as part of a "report to Parliament and Council on the effectiveness of the last package".

It is already clear that "vigorous application of the unbundling requirements" will involve close co-operation with Dutch Competition Commissioner-to-be Neelie Kroes, along with other measures aimed at protecting consumers interests. The document is very detailed on how the Commission plans to achieve this objective: better access to networks, higher interconnector capacity, widening the Internal Market to neighbours, more far-reaching unbundling, more extensive powers for regulatory authorities, a Directive introducing minimum targets for interconnection capacity, and accelerated planning procedure for infrastructure projects.

At the end of the list appears a surprise that reveals the Commissions U-turn on this question: it plans to tackle distortions resulting from access to decommissioning funds for purposes other than the decommissioning of nuclear installations, which enables some traders to engage in predatory practices on electricity markets.


This change of approach was...

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