European energy regulators have launched an enquiry into a blackout that left over 10 million customers across Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain without electricity recently.

The Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER) has agreed to undertake an urgent inquiry at a European level on the blackout, to provide preliminary advice before the end of the year, and a final report not later than February 2007, on remedies to avoid such events in the future.

The agreement came after the European Commission called on the independent energy regulators to meet as soon as possible and provide the commission with a report documenting what can be learned from the incident.

The CEER will advise the European Commission on what specific actions should be considered in its strategic review, expected in January, and what measures need to be taken in the third package of energy legislation next year.

This recent blackout demonstrates the need, now more than ever, for an integrated European electricity grid subject to proper regulatory oversight, declared CEER president Sir John Mogg. We need new legislation that formally mandates the transmission system operators (TSOs) to cooperate across borders and we must have effective unbundling that would facilitate proper exchange of information.

The CEER believes that there is a critical gap in the regulatory framework that urgently needs to be filled as TSOs do not have a broad European policy for infrastructure development and to dealing with blackouts, and do not adequately exchange information.