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The 5 European packages of the internal energy market

In order to harmonize and liberalize the European internal energy market, measures have been adopted since 1996 concerning:

  • access to the market

  • transparency market regulation

  • consumer protection

  • interconnection support

  • supply levels

These measures aim to establish a more competitive, consumer-oriented European electricity market , more flexible and non-discriminatory, with market-based supply prices.

In doing so, the measures strengthen and develop the rights of individual customers and energy communities, they fight against energy poverty, they clarify the roles and responsibilities of market players and regulators and they affect the security of electricity, the gas and oil supply, as well as the development of trans-European electricity and gas transport networks.


In the energy sector, the completion of the single European market requires regulations on the environment and safety.

The objective is to ensure an efficient market offering fair access and a high level of consumer protection, as well as appropriate levels of interconnection and generation capacity.

Liberalization of gas and electricity markets

During the 1990s, when most national electricity and natural gas markets were still monopolies, the European Union and the Member States decided to open gradually these markets to competition.

  • 1996: First “Energy” package

The first liberalization directives were adopted in 1996 (electricity) and 1998 (gas), with a view to their transposition into the legal systems of the Member States by the 1998 deadline (electricity) and 2000 (gas).


  • 2003: Second “Energy” package

Implemented only in 2004 by the states, it was not until 2007 that all the provisions entered into force in the national law of each country. Industrial and private consumers are now free to choose their own gas and electricity supplier from a competitor.


  • 2009: Third “Energy” package

Intended to pursue the liberalization of the internal electricity and gas market, it modifies the second package and constitutes the central piece of the implementation of the internal energy market.


  • 2019: Fourth "Energy" package

Consisting of a directive and three regulations, it introduces new rules relating to the electricity market in order to meet the needs related to renewable energies and encourage investment.  It requires EuropeanStates to preparecontingency plans for potential electricity crises and strengthens ACER's competence in cross-border regulatory cooperation.


  • 2021: Fifth Energy Package

"Implementing the European Green Deal" aims to align the European Union's energy objectives with the new climate ambitions for 2030 and 2050. Currently, the debate on its energy aspects is ongoing.

Next steps

ACER and ENTSO-E (European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity) are implementing and proposing a common risk identification method, which will be approved by ACER. Four types of measures have been proposed:

  • common rules against crises and their preparedness in the electricity

sector, in order to ensure cross-border cooperation

  • common rules for crisis management

  • common methods for assessing risks related to security of supply

  • framework Common for better assessment and monitoring of 
    electricity supply security.

Since July 2021, the European Commission has announced the premises of the 5th "Delivering the European Green Deal" package. It aims to  reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% and achieve a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. Discussions on the energy aspects of this latest energy package are ongoing.

Regulation of the energy market: ACER

From 2011, the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) was responsible for promoting cooperation between the regulatory authorities of each country at regional and European level . She is also in charge of monitoring the development of the network and the domestic electricity and gas markets.

ACER has also a role on the legal aspect, as it can investigate cases of market abuse and coordinate the application of sanctions in coordination with the decisions of the Member States of the European Union .

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