The so-called third energy package became effective on 3 March 2011. It comprises 2 market directives, 2 regulations (on cross-border exchange in electricity and natural gas transmission networks) and a regulation establishing the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators.
This package is a tool developed to fulfil the objectives of the European energy policy, including in particular, to complete the process of developing a single competitive energy market for the entire European Union. Implementation of this package will support liberalisation and further development of competition in gas and electricity markets, as well as improve the quality of service and security of supply. Putting the new EU regulations into effect will result in an increased transparency of retail markets, reinforcement of the consumer protection rules and improved effectiveness of regulatory supervision exercised by independent National Regulatory Authorities.
To achieve the aforesaid objectives, under the third energy package:
- the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators has been established. Its task is to ensure proper coordination of activities undertaken by energy regulators, monitor the cooperation between transmission system operators, monitor the gas and electricity markets and the course of the integration process;
- cooperation between the Transmission System Operators has been formalised by establishing the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSO-G) and Electricity (ENTSO-E). Moreover, Transmission System Operators become independent. The fulfilment of the independency requirements is confirmed through the certification process carried out by a regulatory body and the European Commission;
- specific tools for implementation of a single energy market, i.e. Network Codes developed based on Framework Guidelines, are proposed. Network Codes are documents which set out the conditions for effective access to the transmission networks across borders (which meets the non-discrimination and transparency requirements, to ensure cross-border exchange of electricity), likewise rules for operation of such networks;
- the role of the regulator is strengthened by extending its rights and introducing an obligation of Member States to ensure that National Regulatory Authorities are independent. The regulator should also be legally and functionally independent from any other public or private entity;
- consumer rights and protection of the vulnerable customers are strengthened.