The gas and energy sector has been under close scrutiny by the
German Federal Competition Office ("BKartA") and the
German government. It could only be a matter of time before other
member states' authorities follow suit.
At the beginning of this week, the German minister of economics,
Rainer Brüderle, asked the BKartA to establish a market
monitoring body (Markttransparenzstelle) for the energy and gas
sector, whose job it is to oversee pricing mechanisms in this
sector. The BKartA has welcomed such a move, wanting to shed light
on the pricing mechanisms used by large energy and gas companies,
which have been criticised by consumer protection groups for not
being sufficiently transparent. Rainer Brüderle has also
criticised this lack of transparency in a speech in early June. The
vice-president of the BKartA, Peter Klocker, this week welcomed the
move of establishing the market monitoring body, which in his view
provides a welcome additional tool to the BKartA in tracking abuses
of dominant positions in this area, and which brings a significant
improvement to the BKartA's enforcement possibilities.
According to Peter Klocker, such transparency on the markets
enables the BKartA to detect abuses early and allows the BKartA to
The market monitoring body for the energy and gas sector had
already been proposed by the German monopoly commission in a
special report, published July 2009, and was included in the new
German government's coalition manifesto, published in October
2009. It therefore comes as no surprise that Rainer Brüderle
is now proposing that the BKartA establishes a market monitoring
body for the sector.
Additionally, the BKartA's energy sector enquiry is ongoing
(start date April 2009). A final report is expected in the autumn
of this year. Any findings by the BKartA could lead to proceedings
for infringements of competition law being brought against
undertakings in the energy sector. In the course of the enquiry,
the BKartA investigated the wholesale pricing mechanisms of 60
energy suppliers, including, amongst others, large energy providers
such as E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall. Given that different member
states' energy authorities are in constant contact and often
take their cue from findings elsewhere, it is quite likely that
similar investigations will be undertaken elsewhere in the near
To view Community Week, Issue 485; 20th August 2010
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