Ljubljana, 03 March (STA) - The Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) was launched at a high-profile ceremony in Ljubljana on Thursday as an institution tasked to ensure the work of national energy regulators is in line with EU regulations.
The ceremony saw the handover of a symbolic key at the TR3 office tower in the centre of Ljubljana, the headquarters of the first European agency seated in Slovenia. Addressing the event, ACER director Alberto Pototschnig hailed the agency's launch as a historic milestone in Europe's single energy market.
"ACER is a crucial element in the new architecture of Europe's internal energy market, a market opened to competition where efficient suppliers can enter new countries and new markets to challenge large energy companies and bring prices down, protecting consumers against abusive behaviour of dominant energy companies."
Slovenian PM Borut Pahor meanwhile said that ACER was coming at a time when the European and world economies as well as the energy sector were at a crossroads. "Energy is at the core of a path to a low-carbon economy which we all want, and this energy is competitive, environment-friendly and supports the economy."
The inaugural ceremony was also attended by European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and Slovenian Economy Minister Darja Radic, who will address the press shortly.
ACER was established as part of the EU's third energy package adopted in 2009 which takes effect today to encourage cooperation between national regulators and complement the work of national regulatory authorities at the EU level.
Since the package preserves the independence of national regulators, the agency will not be a European regulator and will not have direct power in national affairs. It is nevertheless considered a key European agencies, having a similar role in the energy sector as the European Central Bank in the field of finance.
The agency will have around 30 tasks, the main one being to prepare guidelines for network codes or rules that would be binding in all 27 member states. The staff, which will eventually number over 50 employees, will work in three departments: electricity, gas and administrative department.
ACER will have an Administrative Board, a Regulatory Board and a Board of Appeal, which will be meeting mainly in Ljubljana. The agency is financed from the EU budget, with EUR 5m earmarked for this year.