France content with EU's residential gas, electric market liberalization schedule

France officials have said they are content with a compromise that European Union energy ministers reached last month calling for the opening of residential natural gas and electric markets by July 2007.

By an OGJ correspondent

PARIS, Dec. 10 -- France officials have said they are content with a compromise that European Union energy ministers reached last month calling for the opening of residential natural gas and electric markets by July 2007.

For a decade, the EU has been negotiating to reach an agreement on when to open markets.

In March, EU leaders met in Barcelona and agreed to open the commercial markets in January 2004, but that has now been extended to July 2004. The compromise was reached during a Nov. 25 meeting of the EU energy ministers.

The original date for the residential markets had been 2005, but EU energy ministers last month reached a compromise calling for the markets to open by July 2007.

France's Industry Minister Nicole Fontaine had insisted that 2005 was too early (OGJ, Oct. 14, 2002, p. 7).

The EU energy ministers also agreed that a progress report would be compiled in 2006, as requested by France, to evaluate commercial liberalization efforts. Specifically, energy ministers want to know how prices have evolved, the quality of the service offered, and if all countries have opened their markets at the same level.

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