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EU could miss 2014 target for internal energy market

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said he was unsure whether the EU could meet a 2014 deadline for creating a single EU-wide market for gas and power. “I do have some doubts as to whether this goal is achievable by that deadline,” he was quoted by Reuters.

EU rules to liberalise energy markets are designed to increase competition and push down prices for consumers, by forcing large utilities to open their gas and power distribution networks to new operators.

Another senior EU official said market liberalisation rules had to be backed by investment in new energy distribution capacity to achieve a true internal market. “Regulation and infrastructure development must go hand-in-hand,” said Philip Lowe, director general of the European Commission’s energy department.

“If you’re trying to create an open, integrated, competitive market, a certain number of things are possible without physical interconnection. Nevertheless, physical interconnection must underpin what regulations you want to apply.”

The Commission is due to propose new EU-wide rules later this month to improve the planning and funding of energy infrastructure. The bloc estimates it will require around EUR1tn (US$1.36tn) of investment. A key priority is the linkage of gas and power networks of the EU’s 27 member states so that no single country can be starved of energy as was the case when Russian gas imports via Ukraine where cut in January 2009.

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