Summary and Recommendations
1. Preliminary Note.
The decision to present a summary of the factors analysed throughout this
study in a separate chapter is mainly based on the importance of making a value
judgement of the abovementioned aspects in order to express an opinion on them.
One of the main purposes of this study and of the overall project in which it is
included is that of contributing to and encouraging a debate on how energy markets
are regulated and on consumer participation in the regulatory process.
Therefore, our summary and recommendations do not intend to provide a
solution for the problems and complex issues existing in the energy markets and in
their regulation, but simply to present arguments that may serve as a basis for a
necessary and urgent debate.
2. Market Structures.
The analysis carried out in this study reveals that one of the main factors
preventing the regular functioning of the markets, at European level, is the inexistence
of a real common policy for the energy sector. This sector is still too “nationalised”,
as the Member States remain very reluctant to transfer their authority to a
supranational institution. In the absence of an adequate legal basis at European level,
and of a common policy with its own principles and autonomy, Community action is
very difficult and limited.
The reasons underlying the Member States’ resistance to the abovementioned
delegation are understandable. The energy sector is of vital strategic importance, both
in economic and social terms.
Occasionally, when the global politico-economic conditions critically affect
the sector, especially oil crises, Member States seem to be more willing to find joint
solutions. Therefore, this appears to be the perfect moment to seize the opportunity
attempt to strengthen the notion of creating a common energy policy.
This aspect would be beneficial to consumers, who could enjoy the advantages
of a more competitive single market offering a wider range of products and services,
which would translate into better supply conditions in future.
On the other hand, the existence of a common energy market would also
reflect a stronger and more coherent role of the European Union in terms of foreign
policy. This would consequently reduce or minimise the negative effects of the
European economy’s high dependence on imported energy.
We believe that the project for a European Constitution or, at least, a review of
the current rules of the Treaty of the European Union, despite past drawbacks, has not yet
been definitively completed. Let us hope that this issue will return to the political
agenda in the near future. If it does, Member States could take advantage of the
opportunity to review their position within energy sector and, possibly, set up the
bases for the achievement of a common policy.
For these reasons, our recommendation is that:
• The Member States, together with Community institutions, must attempt to
strengthen the grounds for agreement in the energy sector, in view of the
future achievement of a common energy policy.
The method adopted by the Member States and by the Community for the
opening-up of markets to competition, is a political solution, which is mainly based in
the idea that the execution of the competition rules benefit consumers in terms of
quality and price of the services provided. It is important to highlight this following
fact. The liberalisation of the energy sector is not imposed, which is sometimes the
message that seems to be sent out to the public opinion. Therefore, also accepting the
premise that this is the best solution for consumers and for the competitiveness of the
economy, coherent action must be taken in accordance with the chosen solution, in
order to avoid the temptation of concealing protectionist measures with arguments on
public service maintenance or others.
Therefore, our recommendation is that:
• Member States must act coherently, in accordance with the political solution
for the liberalisation of the energy sector, and accept the consequences thereof.
The liberalisation of this sector implies the dismantling of the former public
monopolies and the creation of conditions required for the entry of new operators in
the market, respecting the principles of non-discrimination and transparency.
However, the analysis carried out in this study reveals that the former
monopolies still exert significant market power, which has the effect of limiting
competition. Although the law prescribes rules by which it is possible to confirm that
some markets (e.g. electricity generation) are liberalised, in practice, there are still
many obstacles to the entry of new operators having real capacity to compete with the
existing operators. As we have seen, the market share of the main operators is still
very large, in both relative and absolute terms.
The presence of various effectively competitive operators is a key factor for
the functioning of a pro-consumer competitive market. For this reason, our
recommendation is that:
• Effective competition conditions must be created by dismantling the former
monopolies and establishing transparent, non-discriminatory terms for the
entry of new operators in the markets.
At the same time, allowing the entry of large European operators that could
limit competition by exerting significant market power, to the disadvantage of other
operators, would inconsistent with the set objectives. In other words, the current
structure of national oligopolies should not be replaced with a European oligopoly. In
this case, supervision of the fulfilment of the European competition rules is necessary,
especially for preventing large-scale mergers.
• The European Commission must enforce the proper implementation of the
European competition rules, preventing the creation of cartels or market
segmentation which could limit competition, especially through large-scale
Another important factor preventing the regular functioning of the markets in
favour of consumers and which is clearly revealed in this study is the high
dependence on oil as primary energy. This aspect makes both the national and
European economies very dependent on non-member countries, particularly on
countries with unstable politico-social conditions. The same holds true for natural gas,
an energy source for which the countries analysed in this study almost totally rely on
Even if the domestic markets functioned properly in terms of competition, and
we have already seen that this is not the case, the objectives set for achieving the best
benefits for consumers and greater competitiveness of the economy will always be
subject to uncertain external factors.
In this case:
• The Member States and the European Community must find basic structural
solutions to reduce dependence on non-member countries for primary energy
The functioning of a single European market, or even of regional markets at
European level, largely depends on the transmission networks’ capacity to allow the
existence of intra-Community transactions. As we have seen, the current energy
transmission networks still have a national character and the interconnection
infrastructures that are required for large-scale transactions between the Member
States do not yet exist.
The analysis carried out in this study reveals that several endeavours have
been undertaken in this field to improve these conditions. In spite of this, there are
still too many flaws.
In order improve this situation, we believe it is important that:
• The Member States, particularly the regulators, together with the European
Community, continue to make all the necessary efforts to improve the capacity
of the interconnection infrastructures of the energy transmission networks,
especially through joint planning of public investments made in this field.
With regard to electricity transmission, it appears that liberalisation, as far as
household consumers are concerned, is still in its initial stage (Spain) or is still in
progress (September 2006 in Portugal, and January 2007 in Italy), which does not
allow us to assess its consequences. Similarly, with regard to natural gas, the
possibility to choose supplier is still very limited (Spain and Italy) or even inexistent
There are, however, various factors that lead to think that liberalisation will
not give consumers the expected and promised advantages. On the one hand, the
oligopoly structure of the markets does not offer consumers much choice. On the
other hand, the existence of a regulated sector in which prices are sometimes kept
artificially low, prevents the development of a truly transparent and competitive
market. In Spain, experience shows that, at least initially, household consumers are
not provided with significant incentives to switch supplier.
We believe it is important that:
• National regulators carefully monitor the liberalisation of energy distribution
and develop the necessary tools to provide consumers with the actual
possibility to choose their supplier.
• Public authorities in general, and the regulators in particular, ensure
transparency in the fixing of prices for the regulated activities, in order to
avoid artificially compromising the potential development of a competitive
energy market accessible to all household consumers.
It is important to mention that the functioning of competitive markets is a
means of attaining the objectives set out in the Directives on the energy sector,
namely a higher degree of consumer protection, price reduction and increase in
energy efficiency. However, apart from the functioning of the markets, there are other
more general mechanisms for achieving those results.
One of the factors that may prevent the fulfilment of the proposed objectives is
the complexity of the legal and administrative framework in the energy sector, such as
licensing procedures. It is important that the Member States do not use these
mechanisms as a means to favour national enterprises or former monopolies. Legal
and administrative simplification is a general principle of good governance and it is
an important factor in the energy sector.
• National and Community authorities must develop measures to simplify the
legal and administrative framework in the energy sector, in order to avoid
creating bureaucratic obstacles hindering the achievement of the overall
results for this sector and, in particular, for the benefit of consumers.
• Greater coordination must be established between the different levels of
competences (Community, national, regional and local) in the energy sector,
in order to ensure a uniform and coherent application of the rules.
The existence of a competitive market implies the presence of various
operators. Given the limited number of operators currently present in the market, it
would be important to promote an incentive plan to develop it. In this aspect, the
cooperative sector may offer interesting solutions for consumers. Electric
cooperatives could have a high development potential if given the proper conditions.
Encouragement to create new electricity generation, retail and consumer cooperatives
will be an important factor in the development of the markets. The required economic
conditions are: the existence of exploration and acquisition sources (preferably
renewable); financial capacity; cogeneration (combined heat and power) capacity for
using other sources (agricultural and forest by-products, etc.); a self-generation
network (directly owned or purchased); the possibility of building direct lines;
maximum aggregation of users (members); optimisation of the ratio between demand
and self-generation in order to reduce external energy integration costs; the possibility
of interconnecting to the system in order to handle emergencies and ensure continuity
of service; the possibility of disposal of excess electricity.
Cooperatives, which are non-profit organisations governed by social criteria,
could be an alternative business model option. However, positive discrimination
systems should be developed in order to enable these organisations to show positive
In order to achieve this:
• National authorities and European institutions must draw up plans to
encourage and support, within energy markets, the development of new
operators capable of contributing to the attainment of the objectives proposed
for the these sectors;
• In particular, public authorities must develop measures to encourage and
support the cooperative sector, acknowledging the specific role of
cooperatives as social economy organisations and creating the appropriate
economic conditions for their development.
3. Regulation of the energy markets.
The general objective of creating a single energy market is still far from
reality. It is therefore still premature to speak of a European regulator. It could be
argued that this market could be more easily achieved with the presence of a
European regulator, although this would imply that the latter would have to co-exist
with the national regulators and its powers would be limited to coordinating and
guiding the latter.
We believe this solution is not advisable. A regulatory authority must have a
specific economic regulatory function and the necessary powers to fulfil its
objectives, namely in setting the contract terms of the regulated markets. Establishing
an authority without those powers would be, in our opinion, counterproductive.
However, this issue will be given greater importance in future, as domestic market
integration progresses and we therefore believe it needs mentioning for future debate.
Even without a European regulator, the European Community still has an
important regulatory role, namely in the coordination of national regulators to achieve
a uniform application of Community rules in all Member States. This role is already
being performed and it must, according to us, be developed and strengthened.
For the above reasons, we present the following recommendations:
• At the present time, a European regulatory authority should not be created, but
the Member States and Community institutions must reflect upon this
requirement as the integration of the domestic energy markets progresses and
the possibility of achieving a single European market becomes a clearer
• The European Commission must continue to strengthen its role of
coordination of national regulators in view of achieving a uniform application
of Community rules in all Member States.
Another question is to know whether the existence, at European level, of
common rules for the institutional structure of national regulators is justified or not.
As we have seen, the countries analysed in this study have different structures
according to their respective administrative traditions.
The problem of the existence of different organisational structures for
regulation is that this has implications in the way the markets are regulated.
Therefore, for a single market to actually exist there should be common rules for the
The analysis carried out in this study reveals that the regulatory structures in
Portugal and Italy differ from the Spanish one. This is in spite of the fact that these
countries share the same cultural, legal and administrative origin and tradition.
Considering this example in a context of 25 Member States, with very differing legal
and political traditions, the organisational structure of the national regulators could
prevent a uniform application of Community rules, thus creating obstacles to the
achievement of the internal market.
It is clear that Community action must be guided by the principles of
subsidiarity and of proportionality, which implies that the rules must be established in
accordance with the key general principles of regulation, namely those discussed in
this study. If some rules really do exist in Community legislation, they are, according
to us, insufficient and not systemised.
For this purpose, we believe that:
• At European level, there should be rules establishing the general principles of
organisation of the national regulatory authorities, in order to ensure a uniform
application of Community rules and decision-making processes.
The analysis of the various regulatory bodies seems to reveal that the
independent agency model is the one that benefits consumers most. In our opinion,
this is a matter of coherence of system. There are two options. One is to not liberalise
the markets, which implies that a more classical type of public service control is
maintained and, accordingly, the market is regulated through the retention of
ownership of the enterprise(s) or through a classical administrative body. The other
option is to adopt a liberal model, thus opening up the market and, consequently,
independent bodies are established to ensure the functioning of the markets without
political or administrative interference. What seems not to work is the blending of the
Note that we are not expressing preference for one or the other system, but we
simply wish to draw attention to the importance of coherence within the chosen
system. In any case, as a result of this notion, the Member States and the European
Community chose the liberalisation of the energy sector.
• Member States must ensure the administrative independence of the regulatory
bodies in order to prevent undesirable interferences in the mechanisms that
enable the functioning of the markets.
The three countries analysed in this study have chosen a system in which the
regulatory body itself has exclusive competence to regulate the electricity and natural
gas markets. These two sectors are regulated in a similar manner at Community level.
In our opinion, this is a suitable option because it ensures coherence in the
regulation of energy services, which could otherwise be compromised. From the
analysis of the structure of the energy markets and of the principles that should guide
the provision of these services to the benefit of consumers, we have not observed
fundamental differences that justify the separate treatment of these sectors.
Nevertheless, in case any Member State chooses the option of assigning the
regulation of these two markets to two different bodies, we believe it is important to
highlight, once again, that a coherent application of the rules and structures is
necessary in both cases.
• The absence of fundamental differences between the electricity and natural gas
sectors justifies their joint regulation by a single body, in order to ensure a
uniform application of the rules.
With regard to the organisational structure of the regulatory bodies, in
Portugal, Spain and Italy, regulators are appointed by their respective national
governments. We have already stated that, in our opinion, this is a suitable procedure
because economic regulation is an administrative government function and, given that
the government is the highest organ of public administration; it makes sense to have
regulators appointed this way. This fact is not inconsistent with the existence of
independent regulatory bodies.
In any case, the appointed members must prove their capacity to perform their
duties independently, through their experience and knowledge of the sector. This
means that the qualifications required for exercising the office will have to be
objectively guaranteed from the beginning.
Furthermore, the regulators’ independence must be prescribed in the general
terms and conditions of their mandate in order to ensure it.
As we have seen, one of the factors that differ among the countries analysed in
this study is the duration of the mandates: three years in Spain, five in Portugal and
seven in Italy. Although it seems impossible to suggest a definitive solution for a
precise duration of the mandates and the possibility of their renewal, we believe that it
should be longer than the duration of a legislative period, in order to avoid a political
assessment by the government upon renewal, if it exists.
For this purpose, we believe that:
• The national authorities must set the duration of the regulators’ mandates for
longer periods that than the duration of a legislature as a way of ensuring their
independence. If mandate renewal is possible, it must be restricted to avoid
perpetuation in office.
The incompatibility regime remains in force for the regulators both during and
after period of office. As we have seen, these rules exist but, in Spain, they are general
rules that apply to the public administration, unlike those existing in Portugal and
Italy, which are more specific and rigorous than the rules applied to senior civil
We believe this is the best solution, considering the specific nature of the
regulator’s duty. However, this too is a simple matter of coherence with the chosen
system. In an independent regulation model, mechanisms for ensuring that
independence must be created. In an administrative supervision system, the
safeguards for independence apply to all the civil services.
If the chosen system is that of independent administrative regulation:
• The incompatibility regime for regulators should be stricter and more specific
than the ones applied to senior civil servant officials, unless the former already
include a rigorous incompatibility regime during and after the execution of the
The participation of consumer organisations in the decision-making processes
is important and it is the expression of the fundamental right to participate through
The participation of consumer organisation must not be a mere formality and
the consultation procedures should be comprised in the very structure of the
regulatory bodies, in order to ensure that their opinions are duly taken into
consideration and that participation be carried out institutionally.
This aspect too varies from country to country. Therefore:
• The regulatory authorities must have their own advisory bodies in which
consumers are represented through their respective organisations.
However, participation cannot be confused with mere physical presence of the
consumer organisation representatives in the advisory bodies of the regulatory
authorities. Effective participation implies placing consumers on a scale of relative
importance in terms of the number of representatives that are available in the
aforementioned bodies, as well as the requirement for their concerns and opinions to
be acknowledged by the regulators.
As we have seen, this is not always the case. Our recommendations
concerning this issue are:
• The national authorities must ensure a fair and balanced representation of the
consumer organisations in the advisory bodies of the regulatory authorities.
• The regulatory authorities must take into account the consumers’ concerns and
opinions presented by the consumer organisations, and provide them with
At European Community level, the participation of consumer organisations is
regular and organised only in the framework of the European Commission’s Health
and Consumer Protection Directorate-General. In the other structures, participation is
either inexistent or is occasional, carried out through general consultation procedures.
In this field:
• A more effective and institutionalised participation of consumer organisations
in the structures of the European Commission should be ensured, in order to
reflect the transversal character of the consumer protection policy.
The consultation procedures are important for enabling consumer
organisations to express their opinions on how the markets are regulated. In this case,
the available information is often highly complex, which implies some problems for
the organisations which usually do not have the technical and financial means that are
at the disposal of professionals of the sector.
The problem of information asymmetry is observed not only in the relations
between professionals and regulators, but also between regulators and consumers.
There are legal measures to tackle information asymmetries between professionals
and regulators, although they need to be improved in certain cases. However, there are
no specific measures to tackle information asymmetry between regulators and
consumers. We believe that:
• The national authorities, in general, and the regulators, in particular, should
provide consumer organisations with the necessary technical and financial
means to enable their effective participation in the regulatory processes.
The general objective of consumer protection may only be attained by
establishing dispute settlement procedures that, owing to the typical nature of
consumer disputes, should be simple, prompt and inexpensive.
The creation of alternative dispute resolution bodies, specifically intended for
the energy sector and included in the structure of the regulatory authorities, is not yet
a widespread solution. In fact, it only exists in Portugal, although the Spanish and
Italian regulatory bodies have mediation and arbitration competences for disputes
among professionals. As a result, most of the disputes between professionals of the
sector and consumers do not yet have an appropriate resolution procedure, and this
clearly prejudices consumers.
The presence of a dispute settlement body must be as comprehensive as
possible in terms of procedures. In other words, in addition to information and
mediation of disputes, these organisms must have conciliation and arbitration
An alternative solution could be the creation of dispute resolution centres
exclusively intended for the energy sector. Finally, the least desirable solution would
be, according to us, encouraging the settlement of ongoing disputes between
professionals of the sector and consumers by general alternative dispute resolution
Owing to the fact that electricity and natural gas suppliers are services of
general economic interest, i.e., essential services, professionals of the sector should
have to be subject to a compulsory arbitration clause concerning consumer disputes
arising from their services. We will leave this matter open to debate, but we believe it
On the basis of these arguments, we consider that:
• The national regulatory bodies should have alternative dispute resolution
systems included in their structure. If this is not possible, they should
encourage the existence of autonomous alternative dispute resolution centres,
specifically intended for the energy sector.
• The alternative dispute resolution centres should have a wide range of
competences, not only of information and mediation, but also of conciliation
• The possibility of creating a compulsory arbitration system for professionals
of the energy sector needs to be reflected upon.
4. Universal Service.
As we have seen, regulation of the principles of universal service at European
level is performed by the legislation of the each sector. This means that the different
sectors may be subject to different public service obligations. This solution is
justifiable in the light of the fact that each specific sector of the services of general
interest has different characteristics and, consequently, requires a specific regulation.
In spite of this, we believe this factor could be subject to harmonisation by
Community legislation, especially with regard to the key general guidelines. Some
room would obviously be left for specific implementations of these general rules by
each sector of the services of general economic interest.
• The existence of a Community legislation providing the general principles of
universal service applicable to all the sectors of the services of general
economic interest would be advantageous.
Personal and geographic accessibility to the energy sectors is guaranteed in the
countries analysed in this study. As we have seen, the general framework of the legal
regulations and the inheritance of social action models enable all consumers to access
these services under equal terms, whatever their geographical location.
In spite of this, in the natural gas sector, there are still some gaps in the total
coverage of the territory. Given that this service is replaceable by others (such as
channelled or bottled butane and propane), the economic and environmental
advantages of natural gas in comparison with other gases, justifies future investments
to increase its transmission and distribution networks. Consequently:
• The national authorities and the enterprises operating in the natural gas sector
should make all the necessary efforts to increase the coverage of the
transmission and distribution networks in order to service the whole territory
of the Member States.
Affordability of the energy services is a key factor for assessing the fulfilment
of their mission as services of general economic interest.
As we have seen, the fixing of tariffs and prices is performed by the regulatory
authority, in Portugal and Italy, and by the government at the proposal of the
regulator, in Spain. This process has often been subject to political pressures as well
as to pressures exerted by factors that are exogenous to economic regulation. As a
result, there is an unsustainable situation of artificially low prices and tariff deficits
with costs that will swell in the future and that will have to be covered by users or by
citizens, through public funds. On the other hand, keeping prices artificially low sends
out the wrong message to consumers and can compromise another important factor of
the energy policy: the rational use of energy.
In this respect, our recommendations are that:
• The fixing of tariffs and prices in the regulated markets should be performed
by the regulatory authority, on the basis of objective criteria, and not by a
• The fixing of tariffs and prices should be based on the “cost-oriented”
principle to avoid tariff deficits. Tariffs should be fixed in a transparent
manner, reflecting the real costs, and the regulators must use all the measures
at their disposal to tackle information asymmetry.
• The national authorities must minimise political, legal or administrative
obstacles hindering the fixing of tariffs and prices by the regulatory bodies, on
the basis of objective criteria.
With regard to the principle of continuity, whereby the provision of services of
general interest must not be interrupted except in unforeseeable circumstances or of force
majeure, our analysis reveals that the situation is quite positive in the three countries.
This is confirmed in the comparative study carried out by the Council of European
Energy Regulators, which was mentioned earlier. We therefore have no
recommendations concerning this specific issue.
Also with regard to quality of service, the same study reveals a positive
situation in the three Member States. From our analysis, we may conclude that this is
a field in which regulators have had a key role in the improvement of both technical
and commercial quality standards. On the other hand, the existence of mechanism of
direct compensation to consumers in case of non-compliance with the established
quality standards is an important factor in their enforcement and in consumer
protection. Let us hope that national regulators continue to work hard in this field.
Nevertheless, we would like to highlight the notion that:
• The national regulators must reflect any recurrent and hefty cases of non-
compliance in the tariffs and prices, namely by reducing the profit margins
granted to enterprises.
Another principle associated with the concept of universal service, is security
of supply, which we have analysed. As we have seen, this concept embraces various
aspects, ranging from physical safety of appliances and installed equipment to the
more complex reality of ensuring future energy supplies.
From the analysis of the situation in Portugal, Spain and Italy, we may
conclude that the existing systems and technical standards are adequate for ensuring
the physical safety of consumers. This issue falls within the competence of
administrative bodies and not of the regulators.
Moreover, with regard to security of supply in terms of continuity of future
supplies, a number of problems are observed, especially owing to the fact that the
European Union, in general, and Portugal, Spain and Italy, in particular, are extremely
dependent on non-member states for primary energy. This aspect was mentioned in
the analysis of the market structures.
Reliance upon non-member states also gives rise to the issue of environmental
protection. Dependence on fossil fuels and, particularly, on oil, not only limits the
Member State’s scope for action, but it also leads to environmental unsustainability.
As a result, the search for diversification of primary energy sources is not only a
matter of global economic and political strategy, but also a key factor in sustainable
As we have seen, there are various measures, at European Community level
and in the single Member States, to encourage energy production through renewable
energy sources. These measures comprise quantitative targets for the next few years.
Our concern, however, is that these measure may be of merely economic nature and
not an expression of the necessary structural changes. In fact, the increase in
production through renewable energy sources may be lower than the increase in
consumption (especially if oil prices fall).
The promotion of renewable energy sources should be balanced among the
different sources. We have seen that this is not the case in the countries analysed in
this study, owing to the fact that they rely preponderantly upon hydropower. This
source has less positive properties in terms of global environmental impact and of
generation capacity, depending on variations in the inflow ratio.
For this reason, while acknowledging the merit of the proposed measures, we
believe it is useful to make the following recommendations:
• The European Community and Member States must take the necessary
structural measures to achieve the effective and exhaustive development of
energy production through renewable energy sources.
• The development of energy production through renewable energy sources
must attempt to find a proportional balance between the different energy
sources and encourage their diversification.
However, attempting to solve the problem only on the supply side is not
sufficient. Encouragement of the rational use of energy, energy efficiency and
consumption reduction are necessary measures, on the demand side, to promote
This issue has also been approached by the European Commission and by the
national authorities, but we are concerned that their goals are not ambitious enough.
For this reason:
• The European Community and Member States should develop and strengthen
the measures to encourage energy efficiency and energy consumption
reduction, as key factors in sustainable development.
With regard to consumers, energy prices should also reflect environmental
costs, in order for them to feel that they share responsibility in promoting sustainable
consumption. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental issues and the
inclusion of energy costs would be a matter of transparency. Therefore, an important
task of the regulatory authorities is to internalise the environmental costs in their
tariffs. This is performed in the countries analysed in this study and should be
encouraged. The importance of this aspect is highlighted in the following
• The national regulatory authorities must internalise the environmental costs of
the regulated activities, in order to increase the transparency and truthfulness
of tariffs and prices.
On the other hand, the possibility of choosing supplier and the possible
development of marketing strategies based on “green energy” are new factors that
may benefit consumers. However, these actions must be regulated, in order to avoid
the risk of unfair and deceitful trade practices. Therefore:
• The selling of “green” energy, generated through environment-friendly
processes, must be regulated in order to prevent the occurrence of unfair and
deceitful trade practices.
Consumer protection is one of the key objectives of regulation. The regulators
must therefore have various tools and competences to ensure its enforcement.
Consumer protection is also one of the principles comprised in the concept of
universal service. As we have seen, the regulators have several consumer protection
tools, namely those included in the other universal service principles.
There are, however, other more general fundamental rights on which the
regulators may focus their attention more, especially in terms of coordinating
initiatives with the administrative bodies in charge of enforcing the general consumer
protection policy. This factor is particularly significant at European Commission
level, where the proper coordination of consumer protection services with other
relevant services sometimes seems to fail. This implies that the transversal character
of the consumer protection policy still needs to be developed in practical terms.
In this field, our recommendations are:
• The European Commission and the national regulators must safeguard the
general principles of consumer protection, owing to its transversal nature, in
spite of not falling within their competences from the point of view of strict
economic regulation. Their actions should focus mainly on the consumers’
rights to information and education and on the protection of their economic
• The European Commission and the national regulators must coordinate the
consumer protection initiatives with their respective services of this field.
Finally, with regard to funding transparency, in the light of the analysis carried
out in this study, it is important to highlight that the concept of universal service must
not be used abusively as a way to conceal protective policies for the national
enterprises or states. Therefore:
• Mechanisms to ensure transparent funding of the universal service must be
developed in order to avoid falsification of competition or irregular
functioning of the markets.
Project leader: Fenacoop – Federação Nacional das Cooperativas de Consumidores
(National Federation of Consumer Cooperatives)
FENACOOP is a higher-level cooperative (Federation of Cooperatives)
founded on 24th October 1978, as a non-profit organisation. Its activities are guided
by the cooperative principles comprised in the Cooperative Identity Statement
adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance.
At the national level, FENACOOP’s main objectives are:
• To politically and socially represent the Consumption and Consumer
Cooperatives, acting as their spokesperson at the various national and
• To co-ordinate the implementation of modernisation and development policies
for Consumer Cooperatives at economic and social level;
• To provide technical assistance services in legal and economic matters and to
carry out consumer protection, education and information actions, also
including environmental protection.
As a representative organisation of Consumption and Consumer Cooperatives,
FENACOOP participates in and is a member of several national and international
Rua da Guiné, n.º 8, r/c dto. 1170-173 Lisbon;
Tel – 265 799 059; Fax – 265 701 159;
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
Partner: Hispacoop – Spanish Confederation of Consumer and User Cooperatives
Hispacoop gathers and co-ordinates the consumer cooperatives of Spain and
represents them at national and international institutions and forums. It acts both as a
consumer organisation and as a cooperative business organisation/.
Hispacoop’s main objectives are:
• To represent and defend the interests of the consumer cooperatives;
• To defend consumers and provide them with information and training, and to
collaborate with other consumer organisations;
• To improve business competitiveness in the competitiveness of the
cooperatives, particularly through training programmes;
• To promote and develop the values and principles of consumer cooperatives;
• To support the concentration of resources and business cooperation at national
and European level.
As a representative and supporter of the interest of consumer cooperatives,
Hispacoop actively participates as a member of consumer organisations. Moreover, it
represents the interest both of consumers and of consumer cooperatives at various
national and European institutions
Via Laietana, 59, 3º 1ª
Tel – 933 172 521; Fax – 934 125 657
E-mail – email@example.com
Partner: Elabora, Italian cooperative association
Elabora is a cooperative association providing consulting services. Its main
objective is to favour the creation, development and growth of small and medium
enterprises, especially the Confecooperative member cooperatives, providing them
with technical assistance in the assessment and improvement of their in-house
resources. In addition to this, it provides them with methodical tools to identify and
exploit development opportunities.
Elabora is the national body that co-ordinates Confecooperative’s services.
With its members and knowledge of the various economical and social realities of the
whole national territory, as well as its professional resources, Elabora is an
organisation which cooperatives can resort to in order to solve their business-related
problems and to develop and improve their competitiveness.
Elabora’s main activities are:
• To develop projects comprised in specific programmes and research studies to
perform activities in different functional areas;
• To develop partnership programmes with members and cooperative
associations in view of developing their competitiveness;
• To develop IT projects aimed at improving the cooperatives’ use of these
Elabora s.c.a r.l.
Piazzale Ezio Tarantelli, 100
Tel.: +39 (0)6 88.547.1; Fax: +39 (0)6 88.541.002
Partner: Euro Coop, European Community of Consumer Cooperatives
Euro Coop is the European community of consumer cooperatives. Its members
are the national organisations of consumer cooperatives in 17 European countries and
they amount to more than 22 million consumers. Created in 1957, Euro Coop is one
of the first non-governmental organisations in Europe. Its Secretariat is based in
Euro Coop’s main objectives are:
• To Centralise and diffuse information on current developments in economic
and consumer policy issues which are of interest to members;
• Constitute a forum for the regular exchange of information and the co-
ordination of member organisations'common interests;
• Promote, defend and represent consumer interests at European level;;
In order to attain its objectives, Euro Coop has three working parties which
deal with issues of consumer protection and economic policy, food policy and
environmental protection, respectively. In addition to this, Euro Coop organises
events such as conferences and forums to increase consumer awareness and
information concerning the main topics of interest for cooperatives and consumers.
Rue Archimède, 17
B - 1000 Brussels
Tel. 00 32 2 285.00.70; Fax. 00 32 2 231.07.57
Rodrigo Gouveia – Euro Coop
Patrícia Gomes – Fenacoop
Felix Martin – Hispacoop
Luca Fabbri – Elabora
Javier Calvo – Euro Coop
Co-financed by the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission