Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-07-08-Speech-2-313"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, here we are at last on the home straight after many long months of work. It has certainly not been easy. Albeit with a few misgivings, I believe that the committee's proposals are equal to the arduous task of dismantling established monopolies. These, as well as preventing new competitors from accessing the market, have long restricted investment and the capacity for network interconnection. Anyone who heard my speeches in the committee knows that I have regarded ownership unbundling as a priority right from the outset, so as to ensure that companies transporting gas are fully independent of companies generating it, even though of course ownership unbundling is no miracle cure for all ills. It goes without saying that, once a vertically integrated company is allowed – even if only temporarily – to retain ownership of transport systems, there is a need to establish effective regulatory control mechanisms which are neither too onerous nor too invasive. Obviously, as we all know, the implementing measures for the gas directive will inevitably follow a different schedule from those for electricity. This difference emerged clearly in the Committee on Industry, which opted for the ITO – the Independent Transmission Operator – as an alternative to ownership unbundling. It is a compromise proposal, certainly not my own preferred option, but one that does go in the direction of greater liberalisation. Indeed, unlike the ISO, the ITO will be answerable to a separate body with genuine supervisory powers. I hope the Council will take up the ITO proposal as approved by the Committee on Industry. The fundamental role to be conferred on the Agency by the forthcoming legislative framework should be emphasised: it must not be a purely advisory role – as I fear might be the Council's intention – but one that envisages a broader remit for the Agency in future. If we are to attain the goal of reducing our energy dependence, we need a single energy market and a single integrated network. I therefore urge colleagues to support the amendments tabled by myself, and by other colleagues from various political groups, concerning the possibility of combining the various transport operators into one single European network company, in order to ensure that there is a single legislative framework and to guarantee market access for all operators, thereby overcoming the ‘unbundling yes; ownership unbundling no’ hurdle. Another very important aspect of my report is the central role of consumers. I shall be brief. There needs to be a transparent, comprehensible means of determining tariffs, enabling consumers to access consumption data at any time and giving them freedom to change supplier if they so wish. Regarding the comitology procedure, I am pleased that the Commission has accepted my position: I believe that it is up to Member States to lay down the guidelines, rather than a committee speaking for the Commission alone. Finally, I should like to mention the agreement reached between the political groups, and set out in my report, concerning the powers and role of national regulators: I think this is an important agreement, especially as regards the possibility of imposing sanctions. It is for us, ladies and gentlemen, to decide whether we want tomorrow to be remembered as a key moment in the creation of a single integrated energy market, which Europe needs in order to confront the challenges of the next millennium, or whether, on the other hand, it will mark the umpteenth climb-down, the result of a timid, cowardly reform effort which will basically be postponed until the next legislative term. I hope, moreover, that the Council will give due consideration to Parliament's decisions. That is not always the case."@en1

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