25 June 2007 | Siobhan Cameron
The UK's gas and electricity markets are the most competitive in Europe, according to new research.
Rating the competitiveness of energy markets out of ten research firm Datamonitor's Market Competitive Intensity (MCI) index ranked the UK first in the gas market, at 8.7, and second best in the electricity market, at seven.
The figures dwarfed France's scores of 2.9 for electricity and 3.1 for gas. France's markets came bottom of the more developed European countries, as the country has one of the last state-owned electricity monopolies and has historically resisted a liberalised European energy market.
These varied levels of competitiveness, as well as attitudes towards liberalisation, contribute to a highly diverse European energy market. Datamonitor said this meant the European Commission's aim of creating a single market for energy remained a "distant possibility rather than an imminent reality".
Andrew Hill, director of energy research and analysis at Datamonitor, said: "These widely differing dynamics have resulted from Europe's history of differing energy consumption patterns, fuel mixes, sources of supply and natural resource endowments."
The UK is Europe's largest gas market, consuming around 100 billion cubic metres of gas a year.