February 26. 2024. 4:39

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No electricity market reform ahead of EU elections, Berlin insists

While Brussels works on its reform of the EU’s electricity market, with backing from the likes of France and Spain, Germany is pushing to delay the overhaul until after the 2024 EU elections.

In 2022, record electricity prices prompted calls for reform of the EU’s market design to reduce the impacts of gas prices on electricity and ensure low-cost electricity is passed through to consumers.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made the reform a priority, opening a consultation in January with a concrete proposal expected on 14 March.

However, Berlin is not expected to entertain an electricity reform at scale without significant domestic deliberation, which is still ongoing.

“I think it would be wrong if very far-reaching market interventions were to come all at once,” said Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck on Monday (20 February) in Berlin, calling on the Commission to slow down the process.

The Commission proposal will, or should, “make proposals in the near future on how to secure the energy market in the short term” instead of reaching further, Habeck added.

True, deep, reform of the EU’s electricity market design “will, I think, only be taken up at full speed at the European level after the European elections,” the German minister stated.

On Monday, Germany launched its “climate neutral electricity system” deliberative platform, a working group tasked with developing Berlin’s position on reform.

“We do a summer report, which should already have substantial results. Then we should continue the work, then we will do a winter report,” Habeck said, laying out the German timeline.

As such, Germany is not expected to concretely contribute to the debate until after the Commission’s proposal in March.

Habeck has repeatedly stressed Germany’s role as “the heart chamber of Europe’s electricity system”, due to its geographic location.

“An operation or work on the heart rhythm system of the energy transition, in the heart chamber, is a great challenge,” he cautioned.

Previously, Germany sent a joint letter alongside Denmark and others to the European Commission to warn it away from aiming too high on electricity market reform.

The countries argued that a reform rushed through in ‘crisis mode’ could endanger the expansion of renewable energy in the longer term.

Seven EU countries call for cautious electricity market reform

A group of seven EU countries has called on the European Commission to keep its upcoming reform of the electricity market “targeted” and focused on measures that will enable the green transition while ensuring affordable energy for consumers.