The Belgian and European energy markets are strictly regulated.
In Belgium, regulatory powers regarding the energy markets are divided between the Federal State and the Regions. The federal authorities regulate electricity and natural gas tariffs, the high voltage electricity grid (with a voltage of over 70 kV), the storage and transport of natural gas, the production of electricity (with the exception of the production of electricity from renewable energy sources and combined heat and power systems) and nuclear power.
The Regions concern themselves with the distribution of electricity via networks with a voltage of less than or equal to 70 kV, the distribution of natural gas, the production of electricity from renewable energy sources and combined heat and power systems, rational use of energy and social public service obligations.
This means that in this relatively small country, no less than four market regulators (one federal, three regional) issue new rules on market access, consumer rights, tariffs, technical requirements, etc. on an almost daily basis.
They also issue a significant number of guidelines and interpretations, adding to the complexity of the regulatory framework. Finally, transport and distribution of electricity and gas are controlled by government-held agencies and companies (often with an important role for municipalities).
It is therefore important both for market parties (especially new entrants) and governmental agencies and companies to be able to secure accurate and up-to-date legal advice on the ever changing legal framework as well as solid legal assistance whenever this legislation is brought before the courts (e.g. the Constitutional Court in case of legal review or the civil courts in case of disputes over tariffs or green certificates).