The electricity market in France

The stages in opening up the electricity market in France

With Directive 96/92 of 19 December 1996, the European Union began opening up the energy market. Directive 2003/54 of 26 June 2003 on the internal electricity market complemented these European provisions in order to liberalize the electricity market. In France, the supply of electricity was then a state monopoly provided by EDF, and in some localities by the ELDs (local distribution companies).

In France, the two European Directives were transposed by laws No. 2000-108 of 10 February 2000 and No. 2004-803 of 9 August 2004, amended by law No. 2003-8 of 3 January 2003 and by law No. 2006-1537 of 7 December 2006.

The liberalization of the electricity market has been gradual, starting in 1999 by companies consuming more than 100 GWh / year and progressively opening up to all professional customers and then to domestic customers in 2007.

On 1 July 2007, the entire electricity supply market became open to competition.


1999 LARGE INDUSTRY consumption> 100 GWh/year

2000 MEDIUM INDUSTRY consumption> 16 GWh/year

2003 SMALL INDUSTRY consumption> 7 GWh/year




Opening up the energy market in practice

Organization of the players

The first step to opening up the market was to privatize EDF, the incumbent supplier. The company was split into two: a subsidiary for marketing and a subsidiary for managing the distribution networks.

Opening up the sale of electricity to competition involved the arrival of new so-called "alternative" suppliers, including Eni. However, the distribution of energy continued to be a monopoly. Distribution system operators (DSOs) must provide an equitable service to all suppliers. Thus, Enedis, in charge of the electricity distribution network for most of the French territory, offers the same services to EDF (the incumbent electricity supplier) as to alternative suppliers.

To become an energy supplier, an authorization from the Ministry of Industry is required. There are numerous obligations, including providing proof of a solid financial base and purchasing power. Eni holds this authorization for all markets: professionals, public markets and domestic customers.

Choices for consumers

Only the incumbent suppliers, EDF and the local distribution companies (ELDs) are able to offer electricity at regulated tariffs, set by the authorities. Alternative suppliers, such as Eni, are able to propose market price offers for which they set their prices in line with market conditions.

When you change electricity provider, it does not require any special intervention, you keep the same facilities and the same electricity meter, owned by the distribution system operator (DSO). Your new supplier will contact the former supplier in order to terminate the contract, and you will then be sent a final invoice.

When moving, regardless of which provider and electricity supply was used by the former occupant, you may choose between a regulated price offer or a market price offer. Simply subscribe with the supplier of your choice to the electricity supply that best suits you.

Last updated on 21/03/17