PARIS Feb 23 France needs to make more of an
effort to open its electricity market to competition, the head
of German utility E.ON (EONGn.DE), Wulf Bernotat, told Les Echos
newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.
His comments echo those of Italian energy group Enel
(ENEI.MI), which last month called for more competition in
France, where the state sets electricity tariffs.
A new reform bill could force French majority state-owned
power utility EDF (EDF.PA) to sell up to a third of its annual
nuclear power output to domestic rival suppliers such as GDF
Suez GSZ.PA and Poweo ALPWO.PA.
"I only see a first step towards opening up the market,
that's not enough," Bernotat was quoted as saying in Les Echos.
"As long as prices remain largely regulated by the state,
competition is not possible."
Bernotat said the German energy market was much more open to
competition than the French market.
"Unlike what we see in Germany, the (setting of the
electricity) price (in France) is not geared towards the
market," he said.
The European Commission has been asking the French
government for years to liberalise its electricity market.
No one from the government was immediately available to
Asked by Les Echos whether France has a problem opening up
its market, Bernotat replied: "Yes, clearly, and not just in the
area of energy."
Negotiations with EDF are continuing on whether E.ON will
take a stake in the nuclear power station at Penly, Bernotat
said, adding that he could not say when talks would be
E.ON has said it could take an 8 percent stake in the
European Pressurised Reactor, while a newspaper report last year
said French oil company Total (TOTF.PA) and Enel could each
acquire a similar holding. [ID:nLDE5BDOKL]
(Reporting by Caroline Jacobs; Editing by Sharon Lindores)