April 15, 2021

Competition recovers the powers of light and gas

Competition recovers the powers of light and gas

The Congress of Deputies has approved the validation of the royal decree law that the Government approved in early January to adapt the competences of the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) to European regulations, which establishes that the regulators of internal markets for natural gas and electricity are totally independent. With 176 votes in favor, 171 abstentions and one negative vote out of a total of 348 votes, the Lower House has thus validated the decree law of urgent measures to adapt the competences of the CNMC to the requirements of community law on common rules for the market interior of electricity.

The Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, has defended that this decree law "puts an end to a period marked in this area by the litigiousness of legal uncertainty and the bad relationship between institutions", in reference to the change of criteria approved by the previous Government of the PP in 2014 by which it snatched to Competition the fixation of the tolls and canons that are applied to establish the electric and gas tariffs. For this reason, the European Commission had been threatening since 2016 to apply a sanction to the Kingdom of Spain for not correctly transposing the European directives in the field of energy regulation, according to Ep. In this way, Ribera, who promised to return these powers to the CNMC upon being named minister, has indicated that the Government "has fulfilled its obligation and with the commitment acquired before the Commission".

The deputy of the PP Guillermo Mariscal has said that this measure "reduces competition and therefore the competitiveness of the Spanish economy and seriously harms industrial growth." Mariscal has attributed the recent announcements of closure in Spain by several multinationals of the industry, such as Alcoa, Vestas or Cemex, to the "continued uncertainty" that the Government would be exerting on the prices of energy in the country.

For its part, the deputy Citizens Melisa Rodríguez has criticized that this decree "has been made avoiding public consultation and without having spoken anything to anyone," adding that "it is not overly ambitious." For this reason, Rodríguez has defended proposing this return to the previous criterion through a bill. However, after having been put to a vote, the proposal has been rejected by 175 deputies, compared to 173 who have voted in favor.

Finally, the member of the Unidos Podemos group, María Rosa Martínez, has stressed the importance of these competences returning to the CNMC, because it will help the transparency of the system, although she has urged to seek a procedure for appointments that goes beyond this transparency and independence and has indicated that it still needs to be attributed the management of the radioelectric space.


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