Information solutions provider Datamonitor believes that after several years of inaction in the field of energy regulation, Germany now appears to be moving towards adopting a proactive energy regulatory policy. In 2001 the European Commission threatened to invoke legal proceedings if the liberalisation process was not begun, but although some progress was made Germany was the only EU country in 2003 that had not appointed a regulator.
More recently, however, Matthias Kurth was appointed president of the Federal Network Authority. He has called for a much faster rate of opening of the country’s gas and power networks, as well as for a greater degree of transparency in network use. A similar tone has recently been set by the antitrust authority regarding the duration of gas contracts, German gas suppliers having imposed contractual lengths of up to 20 years on the sales agreements they enter into with municipal utilities. These utilities are now on record as maintaining that this is anti-competitive – a position also taken by companies wishing to enter the German market. Now the antitrust authority is reported to have told at least one supplier that it faces the possibility of the contracts being cancelled unless it reaches a voluntary agreement with the utilities within a given time frame.
Datamonitor says that while these are positive steps, Germany’s energy sector still lags far behind many other markets that have embraced competition; the FNA and the antitrust authority will need to take positive action to ensure that liberalisation becomes a reality in Germany.