The cost of living in the Balearics is one of the highest in Europe, we have to pay the highest water rates in Spain and next year we will be paying more than any other region in the country for electricity. Spain's power sector becomes a free market on January 1 and while on the mainland, consumers will be able to shop around, in the Balearics, the Canaries and Spain's two North African enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, consumers will not be able to enjoy such a market liberty. Yesterday the Balearic president Francesc Antich and his Energy Minister, Priam Villalonga, lodged official complaints with Madrid over further discrimination against the Balearics and failure to approve a new decree which would make central government responsible for covering the extra costs of transport and fuel etc, in Spain's islands and enclaves. Antich said that in 2000, the Minister for the Economy, Rodrigo Rato, assured him that the regional decree was being dealt with, but nothing has happened. To the contrary, the plan drawn up by the Balearics to lay a natural gas pipe supply line from Palma, via Ibiza to Valencia, to ensure a cheap and eco-friendly future for power in the Balearics, has all but been vetoed by central government which, for the moment and, pending the success of the Balearic appeal, has omitted the project from the state-funded national energy plan for the next four years with consumers left to pick up the bill.