Electricity Internal Market in the European Union: What to do next?

Jean-Michel Glachant and François Lévêque


The European Union’s “internal energy market” remains a work in progress. It is even possible its construction were to stall. Given current political, institutional and business conditions in Europe, there are no guarantees that the dynamics of this construction will not dissipate, as in the United States, or that the internal market will not fracture into “national blocks” that may be permanent or persist for a long time. This is exactly what this paper seeks to avoid. It suggests priority actions and secondary improvements to sustain the dynamics of construction of the internal market, from today to the few coming years. It tries too to explain the underlying rationale for these recommendations by describing several aspects of the present state of the construction of the internal market and what factors are blocking or unblocking its progress.
A main constraint has guided our thinking and writing of this paper. We have excluded the issuance of a new package of European directives and regulations to push for stronger convergence in the construction of the EU internal energy market. In fact, such an event is low likely. By contrast, we have counted on two levers: the conscientious applying of the provisions of the second directive and companion regulations, and the promoting of reinforced regional cooperation agreements that will lead to the voluntary opening of some domestic markets to regional “mini internal markets”. We believe and try to demonstrate that thank to these levers a minimal but sufficient dynamics of construction can be fostered.

The identified priority actions will allow to progress without precluding further policy changes at a later date. Then the length of the phase is defined by the expected life of the current College of European Union Commissioners, that is until 20091.

The paper is divided into 5 sections. Each section corresponds to priorities to improve a critical factor: 1- national market designs, 2- EU internal market design, 3- industry structure, 4- TSOs, and 5- regulators. Each section will indicate what makes this factor a key for the building of the internal market and what are the priority or secondary actions which could be useful to keep constructing an EU electricity single market from 2005 to 2009.

Note that this paper does not cover all the areas of the European energy policy. Other topics representing core interests of the European Union and the 25 Member States, such as “Security of Supply” and “Sustainability of European Energy Regime”, have not been treated in this paper. They deserve further investigation and analysis.