EU moves towards 'single energy market' with new regulator
The European Union inaugurated its new energy regulators' office in Slovenia on Thursday, as new legislation for liberalising the EU's internal energy market came into force.
"Today marks a historic milestone in Europe's single energy market," European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger said at the inauguration ceremony in Ljubljana of the bloc's Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).
He also welcomed into force the European Union's so-called third energy package, passed by the European Parliament in 2009.
"These rules will deliver on citizens' and the economy's need for a more competitive, sustainable and secure supply of energy," Oettinger said.
He added that "ACER is a crucial element in this new architecture of Europe's internal energy market."
The goal of the third energy package is to set up a single energy market and separate the operation of gas pipelines and electricity networks from the business of providing gas or generating power.
Oettinger urged EU members to transpose the new rules into national legislation, warning that without that "a truly integrated European market will not be achieved."
He also waved aside complaints in Moscow about the energy package, insisting: "the Russian partners have to accept the European rules."
"The Russians are partners for us, our most important partner in the energy sector," Oettinger was also quoted as saying by Slovenian news agency STA.
The EU is the world's largest regional energy market -- 500 million people and 20 million companies.
European governments have committed to a broad sweep of market reforms, linking national and regional electricity grids and gas pipelines by 2014 to allow power to circulate freely and cheaply, from those who produce it and have surpluses to those who don't and need it.
Last month European leaders launched a trillion-euro bid to slash dependency on Middle East oil and Russian gas, clearing the way to place nuclear power at the centre of 21st century needs.
ACER is the first EU agency based in Slovenia, a former Yugoslav state that joined the union in 2004.
ACER's main tasks will be to develop guidelines for harmonising national grid codes, solving conflicts between regulators, supervising the work of the European Networks of Transmission System Operators and advising the EU's executive Commision on energy market issues.
© 2011 AFP