PositionEnergy policy

Anyone who believed the EU promise of liberalised gas and electricity markets by July 1, 2004 must be very disappointed.

It is just over a year since the Member States put their names to a commitment to deliver open markets by the beginning of this month. But a spectacular twenty-three of the twenty-five Member States have not notified their legislation transposing the Directives.

"Progressive market opening towards full competitiona as soon as possible", with "transparency and certainty in the implementation", asserted the text that Member States signed up to in the electricity liberalisation Directive in mid-2003. They said more or less the same on gas.

It has proved to be nothing but empty words.

Excuses have been offered all round. Little comfort to the two million companies which should have been free to choose their supplier from July 1, or to the new suppliers who wished to get into the market.

There was a complacent certainty within the Commission that everything would work out. The Commission still believes it has done its job - but the result is quite simply not there.

The Member States are at fault for failing to honour their pledges. But a question-mark must also hang over the political wisdom of repeated Commission claims that tight liberalisation deadlines would be met.

The new Dutch Presidency also started on July 1. Its...

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