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The Energy Community Treaty enters into force 1 July 2007

29.01.2007

Thanks to the ratification that took place in Athens on 8 June 2006, the Energy Community Treaty enters into force 1 July.

On 25 October 2005, a multilateral energy treaty was signed in Athens between the European Commission and nine Eastern European countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and UNMIK (1) on behalf of Kosovo), with a view to creating the legal framework for an integrated market in natural gas and electricity.

Behind this Treaty, which contains legal dispositions to ensure the application of EC Directives 2003/54 and 2003/55 (common rules for the internal market in electricity and natural gas, respectively) lies the strategic aim of ensuring a supply route for gas into the European Union from the Middle East and the Caspian Region and the conditions for support infrastructure investments from the World Bank and the EBRD. In addition, the Treaty addresses serious social and environmental concerns that Eastern European countries currently suffer, like increased mortality rates from winter cold, environmental degradation from emissions in old power stations and deforestation resulting from lack of alternative fuels.

The document looks at other aspects of interest to the wind energy sector, such as the implementation of the directive 2001/77/CE on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources (RES) in the internal electricity market. According to the Treaty, each party will provide the European Commission - acting as co-ordinator - with a plan to implement necessary dispositions (within one year after the date of entry into force). Besides, Article 35 states that the Energy Community may adopt measures to foster development in the areas of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, but does not establish any concrete objective in this field.

Thanks to the ratification that took place in Athens on 8 June 2006, the Treaty will enter into force next 1 July. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) welcomes this initiative, as it will hopefully contribute towards a more stable and competitive electricity market and also because it should help Eastern European countries to improve their necessary access to electricity and energy services, while paving their future access to the European Union.

Nevertheless, we believe that more emphasis has to be put, not in gaining access to foreign gas resources, but in fostering the exploitation of renewable energy sources, which are indigenous and environmentally friendly and thus would prevent the problems that are at the root of the Treaty. We would have liked to see a commitment on the establishment of concrete measures to deploy renewable energy sources and demand side management actions, instead of a hesitant “may adopt measures”. This is the only way to ensure a truly sustainable electricity market. Finally, and in line with some of the conclusions of the report on the progress in the gas and electricity markets [COM (2005) 568 final], we hope that this Energy Community will benefit from the correcting measures that are needed, like the effective unbundling of activities, the disappearance of market dominant positions and of massive conventional energy subsidies and the inclusion of environmental external cost.

(1) United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo.

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