2.6.2016

Energy regulators should be independent and sufficiently staffed

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Through the ACER Board of Regulators, the national regulatory authorities and the Director have been working to enhance regulatory cooperation at the European level. The Agency and the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) have complementary duties and powers, and a shared responsibility to deliver a well-functioning internal energy market. Close cooperation is key to achieving this goal. Indeed, NRAs already commit the equivalent of roughly 200 full-time staff to supporting the work of the Agency and to cooperation within its structures.

Nevertheless, following up on the commitment in the “Bridge to 2025” conclusions paper, a Summit of the Agency’s Board of Regulators and the Director was held in September 2015 to explore ways of enhancing regulatory cooperation and ensuring that collaborative practices within the Agency remain fit for meeting the challenges ahead. The main outcomes and deliverables emerging from the Summit are described, along with the context and background, in this Executive Summary.

A key deliverable emerging from the Summit is an ACER Recommendation on ensuring the independence of the Agency and NRAs. Although the independence requirements in the Third Package are generally robust, the Recommendation proposes measures to the European Institutions for reinforcing the framework already provided to ensure that the Agency and NRAs have the powers, autonomy and resources to carry out their duties effectively – including cooperating at European level.

The Recommendation drew, in part, on conclusions of the European Court of Auditors – in the Special Report (16/2015) ‘Improving the security of energy supply by developing the internal energy market: more efforts needed’ – that “NRAs should have sufficient resources available for their activities, including allowing them to participate fully in EU-level cooperation activities.” To support the Recommendation, the Agency gathered comparable data from NRAs on how many staff members they have overall and how many of these they commit to work within ACER. This internal stock taking of NRAs’ human resources highlighted that while NRAs of all sizes commit resources to cooperation through the Agency, insufficient resources puts regulatory independence at serious risk.

Find out more within ACER’s Press Release.