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MINIMUM ELECTRICITY MARKET OPENING SET AS 29.56% IN 2002.

The minimum electricity market opening in the EU should be 29.56% this year, according to a Communication adopted by the European Commission on January 17. The figure is based on the average level of marketing opening in the EU, a consumption of 20 GWh a year and on a consumption site basis. The electricity Directive (96/92/EC) specifies that the basic level of liberalisation in the EU should be expressed according to the average consumption thresholds, which are gradually being reduced, in the total consumption. Consequently, a 20 GWh threshold applies for the 2000 -2002 period and this is due to be brought down to 9 GWh, starting in 2003, six years after the Directive came into force.This figure is of some importance to the likes of France, Portugal, Greece and Ireland, which are keeping to the minimum threshold. For other countries it serves no purpose whatsoever as their market openings are already more than the thresholds laid down. The minimum threshold this year is less than the figure for last year (30.2%) as a result of a change in the United Kingdom's calculating system. It may therefore be concluded that the Member States in question are under no obligation to extend their lists of eligible customers. In contrast, the percentages are expected to increase by about three points next year.These skilful calculations are the remaining signs of a difficult compromise hammered out by the Member States in 1996 to allow the electricity Directive to be adopted. The consumption thresholds (20 GWh, 9 GWh, etc) are in fact "nominal" limits, as they allow a percentage to be obtained that is applicable to all the Member States on the basis of a straightforward calculation. Each country then has to adapt the figure to its own market with thresholds that are often very different. In other words, the same degree of market opening involves consumption thresholds that differ considerably from one country to another. The drawback with this liberalisation system is that it has created an "asymetric" process. It should be phased out with the new Commission proposals that are expressed not as minimum rates but as uniform market segments: professional, customers, residential...JJ:(HB)

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EU
Date:Jan 19, 2002
Words:368
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