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Electricity is a commodity within the meaning of the EC Treaty. As such, competition rules should fully apply to its trade. The reality is more nuanced. The characteristics of electricity (seat of natural monopolies, element of economic competitiveness and social cohesion) have long justified public intervention. In this respect, the transition from a monopoly to a competitive situation brought about by the application of Community competition rules, under the influence, in particular, of the Directives, from the mid-1990s onwards, does not fundamentally call this fact into question. The study of national measures to open up the electricity market to competition in four Member States (Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom) illustrates the influence of national traditions on the determination of new market structures: these reflect social choices and the concern to reconcile the opening up of the market to competition with other objectives. The opening up to Community competition is in fact accompanied by quid pro quos designed to strike a balance between competition and other objectives (security of energy supply, access to electricity for all consumers, etc.). This opening up, outlined in and by the European Community, raises fundamental questions: that of the regulation of public services in networks open to competition in order to avoid, in particular, the formation of private oligopolies, that of reconciling competition and public service obligations, that of the choice of the most appropriate level for determining energy policy in the Community’s internal market.