The concept of a single market based on effective competition constitutes the fundamental basis of EU policies across a wide range of sectors. Energy is a special commodity due to its dependency on natural monopolies. These monopolies, in the form of networks, are subject to complex sector-specific regulations. The necessary progress towards full implementation of the electricity and gas acquis can only be achieved when accompanied by active and effective competition law enforcement. The ex-post and case-related control exercised by the competition authorities forms a natural complement to sector-specific regulation. There are many examples in Europe and beyond for how competition law can even take the lead over legislative and regulatory action.
Furthermore, competition law plays an important role in combating State-sanctioned practices of (public) undertakings, which are actually quite common in some Contracting Parties, as the Secretariat experiences in its daily practice. Competition law and the jurisdiction of competition authorities, in return, have a strong potential impact on both liberalized and captive markets. The ultimate goal of competition protection is to guarantee and foster consumer welfare. This objective coincides with the goals pursued by the regulations. The means, however, may be different.
The Treaty establishing the Energy Community regulates the legal framework on competition in Chapter IV Title II. As a result the Contracting Parties have agreed to implement and apply their energy markets with the core provisions of EU competition law. These centre at:
- the prohibition of anti-competitive agreements established by Article 81 EC,
- the prohibition of abuse of a dominant position provide for in Article 82 EC.
- the prohibition of State aid granted in violation of Article 87 EC and the principles of the Treaty.
With reference to Article 86, public undertakings, including undertakings providing services of general economic interest must also comply with the above rules.
The following pages provide information on the Energy Community Competition Network. The final page on State aid displays the findings of a study, published in Apr 2011.