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Protectionism thwarts EU energy liberalisation

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PROTECTIONISM IS hampering European Union (EU) efforts to liberalise the European energy market and stabilise supplies and prices, a senior energy expert warned this week.

Attempts by the European Energy Commission to create a free energy market will need heavy handed enforcement to succeed, claimed former ICE energy board chairman, David Anderson. Last week the Commission published a green paper calling for the establishment of European electricity and gas grids.

It also said better interconnections to EU neighbours were needed. The Commission added that control of power stations and energy suppliers should be split from the control of ectricity and gas grids - a process known as unbundling.

This would improve supply security and help keep prices down through increased competition, it said.

Recent moves by French ministers to keep utilities company Suez out of Italian hands epitomises the mentality of European governments, said Anderson.

Some 15 years ago Britain followed EU directives by privatising and unbundling its energy companies, he added. The rest of Europe did not.

'There is one model working in the UK and the rest of Europe are doing what they want, ' said Anderson.

The EU must force liberalisation or the British energy sector would soon find itself totally in the hands of foreign governments.

'If the UK model was inflated to the rest of Europe it would bring about a liquid and volatile market. Currently it is open to shades of market abuse, ' added Anderson.

See The Question, page 9

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