OWNERSHIP UNBUNDLING : COMMISSION YET TO REPLY TO OWNERSHIP UNBUNDLERS.
"Not sure it's the kind of thing we reply to. It's more a token of support," said a European Commission official commenting on a joint letter by energy ministers from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK. The eight recently called on Commissioners Neelie Kroes and Andris Piebalgs to maintain ownership unbundling as their key preferred solution. "Piebalgs put a very negative spin on things," admitted the Commission official, critical of the energy commissioner's defeatism following the Energy Council in early June. Speaking after the Energy Council, Piebalgs said: "I can clearly conclude that the majority is not with me. This is definitely a huge challenge and positions are very clear. Only a few delegations do not have a firm position."
The eight ministers dispute Piebalgs' conclusion at the time. They argued in the joint letter of 22 June, sent on by Danish Energy and Transport Minister Flemming Hansen, that there is a clear majority for their solution. "We have not found any of the arguments in favour of alternative models for separating production and supply from transmission convincing. On the contrary, the alternative models will not eliminate the built-in conflicts of interest within companies that own infrastructure and at the same time have commercial interests in production and supply," wrote the ministers. "Furthermore, it is obvious that ownership unbundling of the transmission system operator will avoid the negative consequences of alternative solutions, namely overly detailed and complex regulation and disproportionate administrative burdens." The Commission says that it will take into account the eight ministers' views in its draft proposals, due in September.