Chapter 1: Introduction
On 3 March 2011, the Third Energy Package (TEP) entered into force in the EU. In comparison to its predecessors, the package appears to be more focused on delivering an integrated energy market, in which regulatory processes across the Member States are coordinated and harmonized, the market interconnection is strengthened and the capacity of the Union to react in the eventuality of a supply crisis is reinforced. In this respect, the focus of the latest stage of the European Commission’s attempt to reform the European Union’s (EU) electricity and gas markets stretches beyond the mere liberalization of the energy market, towards the achievement of an integrated administration to govern an integrated EU gas market. The goal of energy market integration – at times associated with or overlapping the goal of market liberalization – has been pursued to a certain extent by the EU Commission from the beginning of the energy sector reformation. However, the clarity of its articulation has been highly influenced by both internal and external factors. Over the last two decades, European energy markets in general, and gas and electricity markets in particular, have undergone an important restructuring process. During this process the role of market actors, the internal market structure and design, and the international energy context have evolved. This accumulation of economic, political and societal factors on national, regional and international levels has influenced and at times steered the direction taken by the European energy legislation.