The European Commission has sent 28 letters of formal notice to 17 Member States in order to monitor the implementation of energy market liberalisation legislation.

Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia and the United Kingdom will be receiving letters of formal notice for failure to transpose the directives properly or, the case in Spain, for failure to apply them properly.

The Commission is also taking Spain and Luxembourg to the Court of Justice for failure to send it their national implementing measures. It is still looking into whether Portugal’s and Hungary’s laws are in conformity with the legislation.

Andris Piebalgs, the European Energy Commissioner said: “Member States must implement the directives on gas and electricity quickly and in full, not only in form but also in substance. Having carried out a detailed examination, the Commission has decided to launch a large number of infringement procedures against Member States which have not applied these rules or other measures which are essential to achieve a high level of growth and competitiveness in Europe.”

The action taken concerns failure to comply with several different points in the directives and, in the case of Spain, is in response to two complaints.

In addition, eight Member States still not in compliance with Community legislation promoting renewable electricity have also seen the Commission launch legal proceedings against them.

Member States still not in compliance include four (Italy, Poland, Czech Republic and United Kingdom) that have failed to report their progress on the use of electricity from renewable energy sources to the Commission, while five (Italy, Latvia, Cyprus, Greece and Ireland) have taken insufficient measures to enable an adequate promotion of renewable energies.

The Commission has therefore initiated the first stage of the infringement procedure with a letter of formal notice. Member States can submit their observations to the Commission within two months. The Directive set a target of 21% for the share of electricity from renewable energy sources in total European electricity consumption by 2010, the current figure is around 14%.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) welcomed the decision with chief executive Christian Kjaer saying: “Effective competition in the conventional power market is a precondition for creating a level playing-field and, eventually, an undistorted and well-functioning market for renewable electricity.”