Pielow, J.-Chr., Brunekreeft, G., and Ehlers, E. (2009), Legal and Economic Aspects of Ownership Unbundling in the EU, pp. 96-116. In: Journal of World Energy Law & Business, 2009, Vol. 2, No. 2.
The progress of creating an internal market for energy has not gone far enough for the European Commission. According to the communication ‘Prospects for the internal electricity and gas market’, the final report on the so-called sector inquiry and the communication ‘An Energy Policy for Europe’, all published on 10 January 2007, in particular non-discriminatory access to the electricity and gas networks (as pre-requisite for competition in the energy networks) is still not sufficiently secured. Perceived as one of the main obstacles is the ‘systemic conflict of interest inherent in the vertical integration of supply and network activities’, namely the preference of group companies on the one hand and the lack of willingness to invest for fear of increased competition on the other. In order to ensure that the incentives for the owner and/or operator of the energy networks are not distorted by the interests of connected supply undertakings, the Commission deems it ‘‘necessary to decisively reinforce the current inadequate level of unbundling (of the energy networks)’’. Ideally, it strives for full ownership unbundling of the networks, which replaces the legal, operational and accounts unbundling already in place by introducing complete ownership separation of the networks operation from the vertically integrated supply undertakings. Allegedly geared to the situation in some Member States where ownership unbundling is already in place for some while the Commission claims that ‘‘economic evidence shows that full ownership unbundling is the most effective means to ensure choice for energy users and encourage investment’’.