French Government Prepares For Gas Sector Competition

The government of France is aiming to pass a new law to open the country's natural gas market to competition by the end of this year, Le Figaro newspaper reported, citing Industry Minister Nicole Fontaine.

The deadline for passing the law was Aug. 10, 2000, and a European Union court has recommended condemning France for its lateness, the paper said. Gaz de France, the former natural-gas monopoly, has said the market is open even without the law.

France is preparing to sell stakes in the state-owned gas and power utilities, Gaz de France and Electricite de France. Fontaine expects a bill on changing the legal status of the utilities into corporations in "early 2003," she was quoted as saying.

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