Select Committee on European Communities Seventh Report


Letter to the Chairman of Sub-Committee B from Mr John Battle MP,
Minister of State for Science, Energy and Industry

  Thank you for your letter of 16 October, setting out the Sub-Committee's preliminary conclusions on the draft gas directive. As you anticipated, I found it extremely helpful to have an indication of the Sub-Committee's thinking ahead of the Energy Council on 27 October.

  The Council discussed the mechanisms for opening up Member States' gas markets to competition on an incremental basis. It also considered the procedures and criteria for the granting of possible derogations from the Directive in respect of problems arising out of commitments under take-or-pay contracts. In addition, there was discussion of the possible treatment of emergent markets and upstream pipelines, the authorisation of distribution pipelines and arrangements for access to downstream gas networks.

  The outcome of the Energy Council was disappointing, however, in that it did not prove possible to reach a conclusion on the main outstanding issues in this important dossier. However, as the Council conclusions noted, substantial progress has been made in the course of negotiation and, encouragingly, the Council confirmed its political willingness to reach a common position at the next Energy Council on 8 December.

  I look forward, in due course, both to receiving a copy of the Select Committee's final report and, in turn, formally responding to it.

19 November 1997

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