Deal on gas liberalisation
The Council has unanimously agreed a common
position on the Directive setting rules for the EU gas market. The
Directive will liberalise the European energy market by opening the
gas market in three phases over a ten-year period.
The natural gas market is worth $100m a year (ECU
92m) and will be of great benefit to large industrial energy users
who have been lobbying for access to cheaper gas.
Under the agreement, each State would have to open
at least 20% of its gas market to competition within two years of
the new law being adopted, which will probably be 1998. This will
lead to just over 33% of the total EU gas market being liberalised
by early in the next century. The deal follows a similar agreement
on electricity in 1996 and will bring the internal market in energy
another step closer.