Malfunctioning European energy market is exacerbating energy price rises

Liberalising EU energy market is the best way to bring prices down

Strasbourg, 15th February 2006 -- EU member states must raise their game on implementing the existing directives that aim to create a single market in gas and electricity if price rises are to be mitigated, the European Parliament's Energy committee chairman said ahead of the publication on Thursday of the preliminary findings of a European Commission investigation into the (mal)functioning of the EU's energy markets, which is partially to blame for exacerbating recent increases in energy bills for British households.

The European Commission is expected to highlight a number of failings in the current energy market including price fixing among incumbent suppliers and a lack of transparency which undermines the position of new entrants to the market. The report is expected to criticise French and German energy giants for blocking competition in the market and subsequently driving up costs for British households.

Sir Robert Atkins MEP, said:

"I welcome this report which is an important step towards making Europe's internal market for electricity a reality. A fully functional European market will help keep gas and electricity prices down so it is important the Commission continues to put pressure on energy giants that are abusing their dominant position in the market.

"It is clear the internal market in gas and electricity is some way from completion and member states must raise their game on implementation and enforcement of the existing directives. When existing directives are fully transposed and enforced we can begin to see what more needs to be done to further liberalise the market, increase competition and force prices down. In the meantime, the industry should be prepared to formally complain when they see examples of abuse in the market.

"Commissioner Kroes deserves our full support in pursuing transparency in the markets as well as tackling distortions. The more the market is opened up to competition, the better it will be for our gas and electricity bills."

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