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UK-French electricity interconnector opens up, increasing scope for competition

Source: European Commission 13/03/2001

The European Commission salutes the efforts made by RTE and National Grid to open up access to the France-United Kingdom interconnection.

Up to 1 April 2001, the interconnector was used exclusively for EDF. At the end of 2000, RTE and National Grid decided to open up the cross-channel link to competition by auctioning off the transfer capacities. According to the Commission, this measure is a major step towards a more competitive and integrated electricity market in the European Union and a step further to bring the benefits of intra-EU trade in electricity to business users and ultimately households. "Like in the telecoms and airline sectors, the liberalisation and integration of Europe's electricity markets will lower prices and, therefore, cut costs for business users which will see their competitiveness increased not just in Europe but also globally. This is turn will translate in more jobs for the European bloc," said European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti.

Background information

The liberalisation of the electricity markets in the European Union has opened up possibilities for electricity companies to become active in Member States other than their traditional markets. This trend is increasingly leading to a new pattern of electricity trade across national borders. As a result, some interconnectors among networks in different Member States have become congested.

Interconnectors are the electricity lines linking different networks, typically the networks of different Member States. In the past, these interconnecting lines were mainly used for reasons of security of supply , and were not intended for massive commercial electricity export or import. Therefore, current interconnector capacity is insufficient to face the pressure of a market in the process of liberalisation. Currently, only 8% of European electricity trade is effected through interconnectors. The European Commission, within its Trans-European Networks (TEN) programme, is fostering the development and construction of new interconnection capacities between European Member States.

The Commission will continue to monitor the situation of interconnectors between EU Member States, including those linking Germany and the Netherlands, the latter country and Belgium and between France and Spain. It will pay particular attention to congested interconnectors (see attached MEMO/01/76).

For more information , see the web of Europa :

- " UK-French electricity interconnector opens up, increasing scope for competition " - Press release Brussels 12/03/2001
- " Role of interconnectors in the electricity market. A competition perspective " - Memo press Brussels 12/03/200