One year after its second liberalisation phase, some analysts are saying concentration has gone from bad to worse in Europe’s electricity market. A study presented in Brussels by the European Green party says continued dominance by a few oligopolies has prevented development for the common good.
There has been improvement in the UK and the Scandinavian countries but nearly none elsewhere. Euro-MP Claude Turmes says: “If we are to have competition between electricity producers we can not allow companies like EDF-France, E-ON and RWE-Germany… these three control more than 40% of European electricity production.” He added: “The former state monopolies are filling their pockets with undue profits.”
Felix Christian Matthes, of the Berlin-based Öko-Institut, wrote the report:“The electricity sector is the only sector where you have only one network, which we call a natural monopoly, which is different from telecommunications because there you have mobile phones in between — at least different networks.”
Controlling the distribution allows the big power producers to complicate newcomer-access to customers, in spite of the rules. Yet, at the Brussels-based think-tank Friends of Europe, Gilles Merrit predicts little EU intervention:
“I personnally do not see the European Commission in the present political climate making a big attack on the energy companies that we rely on as part of the infrastructure of both our lives as citizens and of course our industries. It seems to me very unlikely.”
From 2007, not only big buyers but households must be able to choose their suppliers. The report suggests there will not be much point unless real progress is made in the spirit of liberalisation.