I propose to answer Questions Nos. 254, 259 and 263 together.
The Council of Energy ministers on 20 December 1995 discussed a range of issues, the most important of which was the draft directive on the internal market in electricity.
Following extensive discussions since 1992, characterised by opposing views on the key aspect of third party access, much progress has been made on the draft electricity directive.
Consensus has been reached on the following points: member states may impose public service obligations relating to security, including security of supply, regularity, quality and price of supplies and to environmental protection. New generation must be allocated either by an authorisation or tendering system and even if tendering is chosen autoproducers and IPPs must be entitled to authorisation. Authorisation can only be refused for objective criteria. Fifteen per cent of the market may be reserved for indigenous fuels. Integrated electricity companies must keep separate accounts for generation, transmission and distribution activities and must not discriminate, cross subsidise or distort competition. Eligible customers above a certain threshold of consumption yet to be decided may contract directly with independent generators. Generators may serve their customers via direct lines.
Discussion is continuing on the arrangements for access to the system: the question of member states choosing negotiated or regulated third party access or single buyer systems. The threshold for eligible customers has yet to be settled. Pressure also exists to allow distributors to be eligible customers or to allow a percentage of their customers to be eligible customers.