A legislative initiative to abolish ownership unbundling of regional network operators was recently submitted to Parliament and debated by the Senate. On December 23 2015 a majority of the Senate voted against the proposed Electricity and Gas Act Bill ‒ commonly referred to as the 'STROOM Bill' ‒ as adopted by Parliament. However, the rejection of the STROOM Bill by the Senate did not result in the abolishment of the unbundling obligation for regional network operators, as provided in the Electricity Act and the Gas Act.

The aim of the legislative initiative is to abolish the statutory unbundling obligation. It was announced in February 2016, in reaction to the December 2015 decision of the regulator (the Authority for Consumers and Markets) to set a final date for ownership unbundling (February 1 2017 for Eneco and July 1 2017 for Delta). Statutory ownership unbundling remains subject to a court procedure before the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. The court will have to review ownership unbundling under the First Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Meanwhile, a draft legislative proposal to accelerate the energy transition was launched on April 14 2016 for public consultation until May 12, and is expected to be submitted to Parliament soon. The draft introduces certain chapters of the earlier proposal for the STROOM Bill, including a further restriction of commercial activities by group companies of a network operator. The draft will require amendment to align it with the potential abolishment of the ownership unbundling of regional network operators, which will depend on the outcome of a parliamentary debate.

For further information please contact Max WF Oosterhuis at Loyens & Loeff NV by telephone (+31 20 578 5785) or email ([email protected]). The Loyens & Loeff website can be accessed at www.loyensloeff.com.