BRUSSELS (dpa-AFX) - Electricity customers in the EU are to be better protected against price fluctuations in future. The European Parliament gave the green light in Brussels on Thursday for a reform of the electricity market, which was agreed by negotiators from the EU member states and MEPs at the end of last year. This should give consumers the right to both fixed-price contracts and contracts with dynamic prices. In addition, the EU countries can prohibit suppliers from cutting off electricity to defaulting customers.

The core element of the reform is new long-term contracts between governments and electricity producers, known as contracts for difference. With these contracts for difference, states guarantee electricity producers a minimum price for electricity if they make new investments in renewable energies or nuclear power. If the market price falls below an agreed price, the state steps in and makes up the difference. If the price is higher, the surplus goes to the state. This is intended to create incentives for the domestic production of clean electricity.

Calls for a reform of the European electricity market had become loud due to extremely high electricity prices. The reason for the high prices included exploding gas prices due to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. It was also noticeable that around half of France's nuclear power plants were temporarily out of operation.

The basis for the agreement that has now been reached was a legislative proposal from the EU Commission in the spring. The EU states still have to approve the project, but this is considered a formality./rew/DP/ngu