Over the festive period, the European Union of the Natural Gas Industry (EUROGAS) belatedly, but thoroughly, presented its opinion on the governance aspects of the Third Energy Package adopted by the European Commission in September 2007. A major criticism expressed by EUROGAS is the lack of democratic control once the normal legislative process for the adoption of guidelines governing the gas industry comes to an end. EUROGAS' paper came on the heels of an initial debate held by MEPs on the Energy Package at the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) just before the Christmas break.

The EUROGAS position paper, formally adopted in December, notes that the Third Energy Package gives the Commission powers to adopt - binding - guidelines on a wide range of issues concerning the gas industry. These include public service obligations and customer protection, regional cooperation, implementation by regulatory authorities of accorded powers, record-keeping, certification of transmission system operators, independence of transmission system owners, third-party access, tariff methodology, balancing rules and more.

"Binding rules will be adopted by means of guidelines after the normal legislative process for the adoption of those basic instruments has come to an end," notes EUROGAS. The gas industry warns of a "real risk" of disputes arising as to what guidelines are essential and non-essential. EUROGAS is also concerned at the "inherent limitations of the democratic legitimacy of the comitology procedure". The EU should, according to EUROGAS, better define and prioritise the list of...

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