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The European Commission promotes integration of the electricity markets of the Maghreb

Commission Européenne - IP/10/763   20/06/2010

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IP/10/763

Brussels, 20 June 2010

The European Commission promotes integration of the electricity markets of the Maghreb

The Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian energy ministers met Commissioner Oettinger in Algiers today to step up the process to integrate the electricity markets of the Maghreb, the first step towards full integration of these markets into the European market.

At the end of the ministerial meeting, Commissioner Oettinger said: "It is very important that the three countries of the Maghreb have strongly confirmed their common will in Algiers today to create an electricity market in the Maghreb with a view to integration into the European market. This is a very positive signal for our energy cooperation with these countries which has every chance of becoming the basis for a strategic partnership".

The Ministerial Declaration signed today confirms the joint objective to integrate the electricity markets and defines a concrete plan of action for the next few years, as well as the principle of an annual meeting of ministers to monitor progress.

The integration of the markets based on joint rules is experiencing a new boost with the Maghreb countries making huge investments to respond to a strong increase in the demand for electricity and with a new 400 kV transmission line linking the three countries due for completion this year.

The reforms of the electricity sector which have been launched in the three countries will progressively integrate the regional dimension and enable the trade and transport of electricity between these countries. This process is favourable for investment in the electricity sector, in particular projects relating to renewable energy such as the solar plans for each country and private initiatives such as DESERTEC.

On the occasion of his first visit to the region, Commissioner Oettinger also held bilateral meetings with the energy ministers of the three countries of the Maghreb and met representatives from European industry in Algeria.

Background:

The Ministerial Council held today in Algiers was chaired by Mr Youcef Yousfi, Algerian Minster for Energy and Mines. Ms Amina Benkhadra, Moroccan Minister for Energy, Mines, Water and the Environment, as well as Mr Afif Chelbi, Tunisian Minister for Industry and Technology also took part. The Ministerial Council ended with the signing of a joint declaration by the ministers in the presence of Commissioner Oettinger.

The process to integrate the electricity markets in the Maghreb was launched by the 2003 Rome Protocol and a technical assistance project was financed by the European Union between 2007 and 2010. After this preparation phase, today's Ministerial Council marks a step towards the actual creation of an electricity market in the Maghreb based on an action plan.

The Desertec project is a large-scale eco-energy project run by the Desertec Foundation. The project aims to create an interconnected network supplied by solar power stations from Morocco to Saudi Arabia (also linking Gibraltar) and underwater cables to Europe. DESERTEC also aims to meet a large part of the needs of producer countries in North Africa and the Middle East and to supply (initially) 15% of the electricity needed in Europe.


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