UK may be fined over failure to honour single market agreement

 

The Government has been threatened by Brussels with daily fines of a quarter of a million pounds for failing to comply with EU single market rules - the day after David Cameron claimed that Britain was “at the heart” of the policy.

In his landmark speech on the country's European future the Prime Minister insisted the single market was the core of membership "and must remain so".

He went on: "But when the Single Market remains incomplete in services, energy and digital - the very sectors that are the engines of a modern economy - it is only half the success it could be."

He also said: "I want completing the single market to be our driving ambition".

Today the European Commission announced legal action against the Government for failing to honour an EU leaders' agreement in February 2011 to "complete" the internal energy market by transposing EU electricity and gas directives into UK law by March 3 2011.

Despite two warnings, said the Commission today, Britain has still failed to comply with two measures designed to open up energy competition for the benefit of the European energy sector and its consumers.

The Commission said it was now asking the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to impose daily fines of 148.177 euro (£125,000) for each of the two directives which have only been partially transposed into domestic law.

EU energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said: "The EU needs an internal energy market to tackle Europe's energy and climate challenges and to ensure affordable and secure energy supplies to households and businesses.

"Delays in implementation of the EU internal energy markets rules have negative effects on all players and are therefore not acceptable."

A Commission official said the UK Government had been given plenty of leeway to implement the rules beyond the March 2011 deadline, and failed to justify satisfactorily its failure to do so. While the rules have been transposed into national law in England, they have not been applied in Northern Ireland, it was claimed.

The UK finds itself in the dock alongside Bulgaria and Estonia, although they face relatively small fines of £14,000 a day and £7,500 a day respectively.

A Commission statement said the proposed fines for the UK "take into account the duration and the gravity of the infringement."

Justifying its action, a Commission statement said: "In February 2-11, the EU leaders declared a need to complete the internal energy market by 2014.

"To achieve this, timely and complete transposition of WEU legislation on the single market in gas and electricity into national law is crucial.

"The internal energy market package includes key provisions for a proper functioning of the energy markets, including new rules on unbundling of networks (breaking up monopolies), rules strengthening the independence and powers of national regulators and rules on the improvement of the functioning of retail markets to the benefit of consumers".

But the Government still has time to avoid legal proceedings, officials said - by fully implementing the rules before the case comes to court.

If the issue does reach the Luxembourg judges, it will be up to the court to decide the daily financial penalty, although it generally follows the recommendation of the Commission.

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Voices
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Life and Style
Gold timing: the Apple Watch Edition
tech
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Retail Sales Executive - OTE £27,500

£23500 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PPC Executive - Manchester City Centre

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This forward-thinking agency wo...

Recruitment Genius: Artwork Design Apprenticeship

£7200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Artwork Design Apprenticeship is avail...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web design and digital age...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor