ROME (AP) _ The state-controlled electric utility ENEL's 37-year monopoly would end under legislation approved today by the Italian government to comply with the European Union's privatization deadline.

Under the new bill, 30 percent of Italy's electricity market will be opened to competition in coming months, and 40 percent by the year 2002, going even farther than the EU-mandated 33 percent by 2003.

The reform ``will encourage a new season of investments and create new movement in the sector,'' Industry Minister Pierluigi Bersani said Friday.

The law also ends ENEL's 37-year monopoly on electricity imports and sales.

The reforms mean that independent power producers like Edison and Sondel, which now produce 27 percent of Italy's electricity, will now be able to sell directly to industrial clients. Until now, they could only sell to ENEL.