The European energy markets have gone through major changes in recent years. One of the main causes was the liberalization of the markets. The former Belgian minister for transport and foreign trade, Herman De Croo, describes the current status of liberalization on the electricity and gas market in Belgium in a discussion with WINGAS customers.
Mr De Croo, how much progress has been made with the liberalization of the energy markets in Belgium?
The liberalization of the energy markets is, of course, a requirement of the EU. In Belgium we began with the liberalization of our electricity market around ten years ago and with the liberalization of the gas market seven years ago.
Why weren’t the effects of liberalization as visible as quickly in Belgium as in other European countries?
One big problem is that we generate almost 60 percent of our electricity in nuclear power stations. Huge investments are necessary for the maintenance, expansion and security of these stations, and the resources for this are not always available.
How much progress has been made in energy retail and transport?
The process of liberalization has advanced the most in the area of energy retail, and progress has also been made in distribution. But the costs of energy transmission are still too high in Belgium. We have to bring the energy to as many places as possible. The cooperation with the public agencies has not always been positive here either.
Which changes do you envisage for energy generation?
Even though we are a small European country, we consume a lot of electricity. So far we have covered demand mainly through supply agreements with the Netherlands and France. We could increase our supplies from Germany in future.
What happens next on the energy markets in Europe?
In my view, the Europeanization of the energy markets is urgent – it should be completed as soon as possible and as comprehensively as needed. It would bring many advantages for European consumers.