Geographical context of energy prices in the European Union Member States with special emphasis on the Slovak Republic
Slovak Republic, energy prices, market liberalisation, pricing policy, regional disparities
The issue of energy prices presents an extremely topical subject with a major impact on human society. Energy demand is constantly increasing and most regions of the world are facing serious difficulties in ensuring sufficient energy supplies. However, not only global events affect energy prices in the particular country. National energy markets are highly specific and some local factors may also prove significant. In our contribution we focus on the Slovak Republic and try to analyze the major political and economic factors affecting the final price of energy, particularly of gas and electricity. We pay attention to the period from the accession of the country to the European Union in 2004 until 2011 characterised by 'third liberalisation package' that is associated with a wide range of major changes. Largely monopolized energy market has been gradually opening up to competition and the countries with regulated prices have been facing the increasing pressure to let the free market decide. Progressive liberalisation of energy markets enables consumers to use the energy services offered by various private companies. This new element operating in the energy sector is largely reflected in final energy prices. Thus, the main goal of this study is to highlight the price disparities between different energy commodities in European Union member states since we are at present witnesses to of significant regional disparities in energy prices. We try to analyze current energy prices with respect to GDP (regarding purchasing power parity as well) to ensure that resulting comparison would reflect the financial potential of the population. Demonstrating the effects of the economic crisis on energy prices in different countries will be another important aspect of this contribution.