Greece heads for legal fight on energy

The European Commission is preparing this week to follow up its threat of taking Greece to court over the country’s failure to deregulate the energy market, the EU Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs told Sunday’s Kathimerini. Piebalgs said that he expects Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas to inform him about the domestic power market by tomorrow before taking any further action. «I hope to receive a letter soon, since on July 5 the Commission will decide on the next step to be taken regarding penalties on the countries that have not adopted the directive,» he said. Greece received a warning letter in March from the Commission concerning its lack of action on adapting legislation in electricity and natural gas markets to meet an EU competition law passed in June 2003. The law specifies that energy firms can freely compete in a market and that business and consumers are able to choose their electricity or natural gas provider – market conditions which have yet to appear in Greece. Industry experts say that Greece is the only one of the first 15 European Union member states with an effective power market monopoly. The three-step process of the EU taking a country to court begins with a warning letter. The Commission then prepares a report on its views on the issue and, says Piebalgs, exhausts all communication channels before taking the country to court «Our intention is not to send member states to court,» he said.

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