• Client: EC - DG Energy
  • Implementation period: 2017 - 2018 (Completed)
  • Geographic coverage: European Union

Are European energy NRAs effective and independent?

The general objective of the study was to assess the independence of the national regulatory authorities in the field of energy and their effectiveness in performing key tasks in the following 12 Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. The study analysed issues encountered regarding the NRAs’ independence from political and market actors, the NRA’s adequacy of human and financial resources, and the NRA’s independence and effectiveness in conducting core tasks. The analysis was performed both from a legal and practical perspective, and concluded with best practices and recommendations. The project was conducted by Trinomics in collaboration with Spark Legal Network (lead) and Groningen Centre of Energy Law.

The key recommendations stemming from the project are:

  • Regarding NRA independence:
    • National legislation should include a clear definition of NRAs’ roles;
    • Member States should (continue to) correctly implement the Third Energy Package requirements;
    • NRAs should be accountable towards national parliaments only and not to governments; and
    • A high level of transparency should be ensured.
  • Regarding adequate human and financial resources:
    • The evaluation of candidates for board members or top management should be independent panel, objective and transparent;
    • Apply specified term lengths for NRA heads and board members, with constraints on re-appointment, and limits on dismissal;
    • Apply adequate cooling off period (e.g. at least 6 months) for key staff and board members.
    • NRAs should not be subject to political interventions in their HR management;
    • NRAs should be empowered to define their own budget and allowed to use it as they see fit.
  • Regarding NRA core tasks:
    • National authorities should abolish price regulation;
    • NRAs should have the full responsibility for grid tariff setting.
    • Member States should avoid overly-prescriptive legislation which can act to fetter the discretion of the NRA;