EC will carry out investigation on power exchange EPEX Spot market behaviour

Photo: EU Margrethe Vestager.

As a matter of priority, the EU executive opened on Tuesday a formal investigation to assess whether the electric power exchange EPEX Spot SE  has been taking advantage of its dominant position to hinder the activities of competitors on the market for electricity intraday trading facilitation services in at least six Member States, namely Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Intraday markets are the markets where sellers and buyers of electricity can trade power in the last hours before it is injected into the network. They play an essential role for the safety of the network, but also for the efficient use of green technologies such as solar and wind, whose output can be forecast most accurately just prior to production.

Saying that power exchanges are central to the efficient functioning of electricity markets, Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, specified that electricity trading plays an important and growing role in the effective and safe management of electricity grids.

EVP Vestager stressed as well that preserving healthy competition between power exchanges and between traders contributes to accurate price and investment signals for new sources of energy, which are central for the cost-effective integration of renewable technologies in the electricity mix.

The Commission is concerned that EPEX Spot may have restricted competition in the intraday markets. More specifically, the investigation will focus on concerns that EPEX Spot may have adopted behaviours aimed at foreclosing its competitors by curtailing the ability of their customers to access the entire liquidity of the intraday market.

If proven, this behaviour may constitute an exclusionary practice, in breach of the EU's antitrust rules, specifically on the abuse of a dominant market position as prohibited under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

In particular, the behaviour may distort the prices of trading services, and could ultimately lead to higher electricity prices for consumers and a slowdown in the greening of the electricity system by preventing the cost-effective integration of renewable technologies into the electricity mix.

EPEX Spot is the biggest power exchange in several EU Member States. Electricity trading is a market worth tens of billions of euros annually.

The Commission however underlines that the opening of a formal investigation does not prejudge its outcome.

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