Energy: Deal on gas liberation

United Kingdom
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.