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This project, carried out by Tito Damião and Tiago Santos, is part of Númena’s pre-history in so far as it predated the organisation’s formal constitution by a few months. It is, however, very definitely a Númena project and consists of a study of the socio-economic impact of the liberalisation of the gas and electricity markets which we were asked to prepared by the 2001 Portuguese Presidency of the European Council.

The report analysed the then imminent liberalisation of the gas and electricity markets from the perspective of how this would affect employment and consumer interests. To do this, existing data were taken from countries in which similar processes had already occurred, with special attention being given to the situation in Portugal.

The report sets out the criteria adopted in the restructuring and lists the organisational sectors most affected by redundancies and dismissals, stating what was gained or lost in terms of prices and consumer service quality, with differentiation being made between industrial and domestic consumers.

We found that in the period of approximately five years preceding effective liberalisation, in legislative and operating terms, there was an extremely significant loss of jobs.  More than 200.000 jobs were lost in this sector in the EU15, with 100.000 being lost in the United Kingdom alone.

In terms of benefits, we did not find any positive results coming from these re-structuring processes in terms of lower consumer prices. Strange as it may seem, in some countries we found the exact opposite, in other words, there were increases in marginal prices made as the privatisation process advanced and profit margins went up.

This research can be taken as a good example of the need to monitor policies, measuring trends in inputs and results, analysing both the sector as a complex set of organisations (organisational performance measurement) and the impact of its activity on homes and industries in terms of prices and the placing and assuming of corporate social responsibilities.

A comparative perspective thus shows that countries may have more to lose in this process if the European energy network tends to even out this key development variable and if the peripheral economies are forced to lose competitiveness as their energy dependence grows

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