March 15, 2008
The newest ACER is not a PC: it stands for Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators. It is a proposal made by the European Commission within the framework of the Third Energy Package. Why such an agency is needed ? Why the current proposal is deceptive ?
The proposal to create a European regulator aroused much criticism for fear of new bureaucracy being established, fear of the Commission expropriating the existing national regulators of their autonomy and, in general, fear of a migration of power from the national capitals to Brussels. The proposal is positive but not very strong, and the new structure appears too heavy. Worse, the proposal risks being further weakened by compromise amendments so as to become less constraining for national governments and regulators on one side, and for incumbent companies on the other. The new Agency would then be not very useful, and the bureaucratic weight would be even less justified.
There is a point in making regulation more European. The idea of a new Agency is the result of an evaluation of the work of ERGEG, the advisory group made by national energy regulators. ERGEG has been useful, but it is now necessary that « the voluntary cooperation of national regulatory authorities evolve towards a well-established Community structure with clear competences and with the power to adopt individual regulatory decisions in a number of specific cases ». Consequently, « it was concluded that an independent central entity offered a number of long-term advantages over other options. An Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators […] should therefore be established ».
The proposal turns ERGEG into a 27 – member Board of Regulators which will take regulatory decisions with a two-thirds majority. It is important to nitice that the regulators of Germany and Malta, to make an example, will have the same weight. Our Maltese friends probably agree that this is a bit odd. However, the decreased scope of possible veto power by individual regulators is undoubtedly a major step forward.
The Agency will have a Director to prepare and implement the Board’s decisions. The Director will have staff and a budget, as is necessary. But the risk of an overweight bureaucracy is present. Oversight on the activity of the Director and staff will be provided by an Administrative Board of 12 members (6 appointed by the Commission and 6 by the Council): this is little justified and very worrying.
From EU Energy Policy BlogAuthor : EMI