PPC chief in Brussels to lobby amid rising pressure on utility

Realizing that the overall conditions surrounding main power utility PPC’s dominant have become increasingly unfavorable in Brussels, the company’s CEO Manolis Panagiotakis traveled to the EU headquarters last night to defend the electricity company’s ways.

Well aware of the fact that the European Commission believes competition is non-existent in Greece’s electricity market, but instead is dominated by a PPC-ruled monopoly, Panagiotakis, according to sources, will attempt to lobby in Brussels with the aim of appeasing views and promote the Greek utility’s standing in the electricity market.

Panagiotakis, backed by fellow PPC officials, will seek to persuade officials on a number of fronts, including his view on PPC’s position in the wholesale market as not being monopolistic. Panagiotakis will also focus on the NOME-type auctions being demanded in the bailout talks in an attempt to prove that they would be out of place in the lignite  market and better suited to the retail market, which has opened up to competition. Paradoxically, the Greek government’s latest proposals include NOME-type auctions as a means of liberalizing the lignite supply market.

It remains unknown what Panagiotakis can achieve. His visit to Brussels coincides with a meeting involving the heads of all European electricity companies. It will be headed by the European Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy, Miguel Arias Canete. The EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager will also participate. The degree of progress made by member states in adopting EU laws leading to a unified energy market will be examined.

At a recent meeting of EU energy ministers, Greece’s Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis rejected EU energy market unification policies. He condemned the European Commission for practicing neo-liberal deregulation. Lafazanis also opposed Canete’s views in support of a unified European energy market during that same session, and insisted on the need to reinforce state monopolies.

As for Vestager, the competition commissioner, she has made a public appeal for the Greek government to diminish PPC’s monopoly, adapt the utility in accordance with its EU obligations, and avoid further deviations, such as the governmemt’s declared intention to confine the independence of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

It has developed into a common secret in Brussels that Greece, along with Bulgaria, are considered difficult cases in the EU, as the two countries have managed to keep their respective energy markets closed, at the cost of consumers. However, more recently, Sofia has begun complying with EU directives, while Athens is considered to be insisting with its own and increasingly unpredictable ways.