ECONOMY

EU demands electricity amendment

Greece has to be harmonized with the European Commission Directive on electricity liberalization, Brussels is insisting to Athens. Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio is reported to have sent a letter on October 21 to the Greek Foreign Ministry requesting information on whether Greece has adapted its legislation on liberalization of the electricity market to the latest European Union directive, as no such notice had reached the Commission. The directive in question provides for regulations about utility service supply and consumer protection obligations, bidding procedures for building new producing units, transfer system and distribution network management, accounting segregation by activity of the companies involved, the competences of the Energy Regulatory Authority, and the electrical supply status of interconnected islands. The current electricity market structure has not fully incorporated the directive’s provisions and the EU is now calling on Athens to fill the gaps with new amendments. The directive intends to safeguard consumers ahead of the full liberalization of the electricity market from July 2007. It introduces the term «universal service» that defines the obligatory supply of electricity of a specified quality in reasonable and transparent pricing, which national legislations must incorporate to protect private consumers and small businesses. On production, Greek legislation dictates that bidding decisions be made by the Development Ministry, while the directive requires full auditing by an independent authority. However, the debate on liberalization seems premature for Greece, where even the electricity production market has not opened yet: Its institutional framework may be fully harmonized with the EU, but the distribution side still lags, prompting the Commission’s reaction.