The Federal Cabinet has approved the Federal Government’s comments on the Monopoly Commission's Eighth Energy Sector Report.
The Federal Government agrees in principle with many of the findings of the report. Since the report was published, it has led to the launch of a variety of measures to expand electrified transport and hydrogen networks taking into account the recommendations of the Monopoly Commission.
The Monopoly Commission presented the report in September 2021. It examines many aspects of the energy sector, such as the competitive situation in electricity generation, competition among electricity exchanges in short-term electricity trading, the development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, and the regulation of a hydrogen economy in Germany. The report covers the period from 2019 to 2021.
The Federal Government shares the Monopoly Commission’s assessment that the creation of dominant market positions must be prevented when setting up public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. The Federal Government supports the approach taken by the Monopoly Commission to provide charging infrastructure in municipalities on a competitive basis. The Federal Government also sees ad hoc charging, i.e. charging that does not require users to be contractually bound to a provider of charging power, as an option in the market for charging power that can be used to strengthen competition. It also shares the view that better information about the possibility of ad hoc charging and prices of the charging power would make it easier for consumers to strengthen price competition through targeted demand.
As regards the Monopoly Commission’s assessment of the regulatory framework for hydrogen networks, the Federal Government shares the view presented only in part. In order to take account of the market ramp-up and the heterogeneous market structure, a flexible approach was chosen for the transitional regulation introduced, whereby hydrogen network operators are initially free to decide whether they want to commit to regulation (so-called ‘opt-in regulation’). In the view of the Federal Government, a national commitment to a specific regulatory approach while negotiations are ongoing at the EU level would at present be premature; the transitional rules therefore apply to the introductory phase until EU-wide requirements are adopted.
The comments will now be officially forwarded to the Monopoly Commission, and sent to the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.
Background to the Monopoly Commission and its report:
The Monopoly Commission is an independent advisory body that advises the Federal Government and legislative bodies in the fields of competition policy, competition law and regulation. It draws up expert reports that are subsequently published. Its duties are governed by the Act against Restraints of Competition (GWB) and various other specialist acts.
Pursuant to Section 62(1) Energy Industry Act (EnWG), the Monopoly Commission is required to prepare an expert report every two years in which it assesses the situation and foreseeable development of competition and the question as to whether functioning competition is predominant on the supply markets for grid-based electricity and pipeline gas in the Federal Republic of Germany. It furthermore gives an appreciation of the application of the provisions of this Act on regulation and the supervision of competition, and comments on other topical competition policy issues relating to the supply of grid-based electricity and pipeline gas.
In line with this requirement, the Monopoly Commission presented its eighth regular sector report on competition in the markets for the supply of grid-based electricity and pipeline gas in Germany on 1 September 2021. Pursuant to Section 62(2) sentence 2 EnWG, the Federal Government shall comment on the report within a reasonable period of time.