BRUSSELS, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) outlined on Wednesday new measures to further liberalize its internal energy market and improve its competitiveness.
The energy markets in the EU remain fragmented with limited competition, and a foreign company can hardly sell electricity and gas in a EU country on equal terms with the existing national companies, the European Commission said in a paper outlining a comprehensive new energy policy for Europe.
The policy aims to put in place a complete internal energy market with open competition and effective regulation by January 2009, which could cut costs for citizens and companies, stimulate energy efficiency and investment, and improve security of energy supply, the commission said.
To ensure that gas and electricity can flow freely across the EU and consumers are guaranteed fair prices, the EU executive proposed new rules against discrimination, including a clearer separation of energy production from energy distribution, the so-called "unbundling."
The commission suggests two unbundling options, with a preference for ownership unbundling, by which big energy companies would be split between their different activities.
A new single body at EU level, or a European network of independent regulators, should be established to ensure EU regulation are fully implemented, not least to facilitate cross-border electricity trade, the commission said.