Double legal action

 
Published: Saturday 31 January 2004

In France, a parliamentary committee has shelved a bill to open its electricity market to European Union (eu) competition. This has flown in the face of an eu directive -- it requires a eu member state to allow the largest 25 per cent of their electricity consumers to buy their power from suppliers in other eu states -- and now France could face legal action from the European Commission (ec).

If half of 20 eu members agree the ec is justified in taking legal action, then this would be the second round of such action against France. In late December, the eu started legal action against France after it refused to overturn its ban on British beef imports.

The French decision was also criticised by other European countries. The common refrain was: while the state utility Electricite de France (edf) was free to acquire market share elsewhere in Europe -- edf has already taken control of London Electricity and the supply side of South West Electricity, for instance -- other countries couldn't do the same within France. The uk, the Netherlands and Spain hinted they may keep edf out of their more liberalised power markets if Paris didn't improve.

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