The German government has said it will appoint an independent regulator to supervise access to the gas market in the country if industry and consumer groups do not agree on a voluntary code by mid-July. At this stage agreement seems unlikely, given that months of talks between the two parties have failed to arrive at a solution acceptable to both, particularly as regards grid access fees and consumer tariffs.

The regulator will decide on gas tariffs and regulate all levels of gas trade. The appointment will comply with the requirements of the recent EU summit in Barcelona for all members countries to establish independent regulators in the energy industry. Thus far Germany has suggested that state-appointed regulators are not necessary for successful liberalisation of the energy markets, but newcomers say they face bureaucratic and contractual hurdles and a lack of transparency in buying access to gas pipelines. As a result very few residential customers in Germany have switched their gas supplier.