UK may be fined over failure to honour single market agreement
Thursday 24 January 2013
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.
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
Spain accused of 'provocation' after letting Russian submarine refuel off Gibraltar
Allonautilus scrobiculatus: World's 'rarest' creature spotted for only the third time ever
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...