The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has today (Wednesday, 21 February) published the findings of a peer review of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) that was conducted in 2017.
The peer review report is entitled “Driving Performance at Ireland’s Commission for Regulation of Utilities” and represents an independent assessment of the CRU’s governance; including structures, accountability and process. It was carried out using a standard OECD assessment framework and involved international expert peer reviewers.
The purpose of the review is to help CRU assess and strengthen its organisational performance. This is particularly relevant given the increasing complexity of the policy and technical environment within which the CRU operates and the CRU’s wide mandate to protect the public interest in energy markets, energy safety and water regulation.
During the process, the OECD engaged with a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the Oireachtas, consumer representative groups, regulated entities and industry participants.
The OECD report found that the CRU has successfully developed and implemented major policy reforms for the benefit of Irish consumers and the country’s economy and, as a result, currently oversees fully competitive electricity and gas markets in Ireland as well as an all-island single electricity market with the Utility Regulator in Northern Ireland.
The OECD also recommended a comprehensive and necessary reform package that will enable the regulator to enhance its performance, stand up to future scrutiny and ensure that the multiple challenges it faces are adequately addressed.
The main recommendations focus on both internal processes and greater engagement with legislative and regulatory stakeholders.
These recommendations include:
- CRU to assert a leadership role in setting its own priorities as a multi-sector economic and safety regulator as part of its next Strategic Plan (2019-2021).
- CRU to develop a comprehensive and well-resourced communications strategy and to actively engage with consumers through dedicated fora.
- CRU to become a strong advocate for and contribute to the launch of a rationalisation of the CRU’s legislative framework in the energy sector.
- CRU to create structured mechanisms for the presentation of CRU annual reports to Oireachtas standing committees, including for all-island activities.
- CRU to take a leadership role on the uptake of good regulatory practices through greater impact assessment and stakeholder engagement to promote the better regulation agenda within the Irish government.
CRU to advocate with Irish economic regulators and make the case for taking into account the “special needs” of economic regulators in Irish public administration practices.
Commenting on the report, CRU Chairperson Dr Paul McGowan, said “We welcome this report. We are very pleased with the recognition of the CRU’s achievements, to date. At the same time, we accept the challenges put to us in terms of showing leadership in the setting of our future strategic priorities and in communicating effectively with all our stakeholders. A big focus for the CRU will be to clearly explain who we are and what we do. In doing so, we must hold ourselves up to scrutiny on our performance by monitoring and clearly reporting on our performance. We accept the recommendations of the report and the fact that they represent a package of reform. As an organisation we are focused on implementing and advocating these reforms.
Commenting on the report, Anna Pietikainen, Policy Advisor, OECD said, “Robust and effective regulatory institutions and processes are essential for achieving successful public policy outcomes. We are very happy that the CRU, with support from the DCCAE and the DHPLG, has requested an OECD review of its performance based on international best practice and the experience of other regulators participating in the OECD Network of Economic Regulators. The CRU is a mature and well-performing regulator, and the review has served to identify how it can make even more of an impact – for example by improving its strategic planning, communications, data usage and reporting activities. The OECD also encourages the regulator to continue developing good regulatory practices such as ex-ante and ex post assessments in carrying out its activities.”
A full copy of the OECD report is available on the OECD website here.
For further information contact:
CRU Communications and Public Affairs
M: +353 (0) 86 0081470