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Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the CouncilShow full title

Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and repealing Directive 2003/54/EC (Text with EEA relevance)

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Article 3Public service obligations and customer protection

1.Member States shall ensure, on the basis of their institutional organisation and with due regard to the principle of subsidiarity, that, without prejudice to paragraph 2, electricity undertakings are operated in accordance with the principles of this Directive with a view to achieving a competitive, secure and environmentally sustainable market in electricity, and shall not discriminate between those undertakings as regards either rights or obligations.

2.Having full regard to the relevant provisions of the Treaty, in particular Article 86 thereof, Member States may impose on undertakings operating in the electricity sector, in the general economic interest, public service obligations which may relate to security, including security of supply, regularity, quality and price of supplies and environmental protection, including energy efficiency, energy from renewable sources and climate protection. Such obligations shall be clearly defined, transparent, non-discriminatory, verifiable and shall guarantee equality of access for electricity undertakings of the Community to national consumers. In relation to security of supply, energy efficiency/demand-side management and for the fulfilment of environmental goals and goals for energy from renewable sources, as referred to in this paragraph, Member States may introduce the implementation of long-term planning, taking into account the possibility of third parties seeking access to the system.

3.Member States shall ensure that all household customers, and, where Member States deem it appropriate, small enterprises (namely enterprises with fewer than 50 occupied persons and an annual turnover or balance sheet not exceeding EUR 10 million), enjoy universal service, that is the right to be supplied with electricity of a specified quality within their territory at reasonable, easily and clearly comparable, transparent and non-discriminatory prices. To ensure the provision of universal service, Member States may appoint a supplier of last resort. Member States shall impose on distribution companies an obligation to connect customers to their network under terms, conditions and tariffs set in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 37(6). Nothing in this Directive shall prevent Member States from strengthening the market position of the household, small and medium-sized consumers by promoting the possibilities of voluntary aggregation of representation for that class of consumers.

The first subparagraph shall be implemented in a transparent and non-discriminatory way and shall not impede the opening of the market provided for in Article 33.

4.Member States shall ensure that all customers are entitled to have their electricity provided by a supplier, subject to the supplier’s agreement, regardless of the Member State in which the supplier is registered, as long as the supplier follows the applicable trading and balancing rules. In this regard, Member States shall take all measures necessary to ensure that administrative procedures do not discriminate against supply undertakings already registered in another Member State.

5.Member States shall ensure that:

(a)

where a customer, while respecting contractual conditions, wishes to change supplier, the change is effected by the operator(s) concerned within three weeks; and

(b)

customers are entitled to receive all relevant consumption data.

Member States shall ensure that the rights referred to in points (a) and (b) are granted to customers in a non-discriminatory manner as regards cost, effort or time.

6.Where financial compensation, other forms of compensation and exclusive rights which a Member State grants for the fulfilment of the obligations set out in paragraphs 2 and 3 are provided, this shall be done in a non-discriminatory and transparent way.

7.Member States shall take appropriate measures to protect final customers, and shall, in particular, ensure that there are adequate safeguards to protect vulnerable customers. In this context, each Member State shall define the concept of vulnerable customers which may refer to energy poverty and, inter alia, to the prohibition of disconnection of electricity to such customers in critical times. Member States shall ensure that rights and obligations linked to vulnerable customers are applied. In particular, they shall take measures to protect final customers in remote areas. They shall ensure high levels of consumer protection, particularly with respect to transparency regarding contractual terms and conditions, general information and dispute settlement mechanisms. Member States shall ensure that the eligible customer is in fact able easily to switch to a new supplier. As regards at least household customers, those measures shall include those set out in Annex I.

8.Member States shall take appropriate measures, such as formulating national energy action plans, providing benefits in social security systems to ensure the necessary electricity supply to vulnerable customers, or providing for support for energy efficiency improvements, to address energy poverty where identified, including in the broader context of poverty. Such measures shall not impede the effective opening of the market set out in Article 33 or market functioning and shall be notified to the Commission, where relevant, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 15 of this Article. Such notification may also include measures taken within the general social security system.

9.Member States shall ensure that electricity suppliers specify in or with the bills and in promotional materials made available to final customers:

(a)

the contribution of each energy source to the overall fuel mix of the supplier over the preceding year in a comprehensible and, at a national level, clearly comparable manner;

(b)

at least the reference to existing reference sources, such as web pages, where information on the environmental impact, in terms of at least CO2 emissions and the radioactive waste resulting from the electricity produced by the overall fuel mix of the supplier over the preceding year is publicly available;

(c)

information concerning their rights as regards the means of dispute settlement available to them in the event of a dispute.

As regards points (a) and (b) of the first subparagraph with respect to electricity obtained via an electricity exchange or imported from an undertaking situated outside the Community, aggregate figures provided by the exchange or the undertaking in question over the preceding year may be used.

The regulatory authority or another competent national authority shall take the necessary steps to ensure that the information provided by suppliers to their customers pursuant to this Article is reliable and is provided, at a national level, in a clearly comparable manner.

10.Member States shall implement measures to achieve the objectives of social and economic cohesion and environmental protection, which shall include energy efficiency/demand-side management measures and means to combat climate change, and security of supply, where appropriate. Such measures may include, in particular, the provision of adequate economic incentives, using, where appropriate, all existing national and Community tools, for the maintenance and construction of the necessary network infrastructure, including interconnection capacity.

11.In order to promote energy efficiency, Member States or, where a Member State has so provided, the regulatory authority shall strongly recommend that electricity undertakings optimise the use of electricity, for example by providing energy management services, developing innovative pricing formulas, or introducing intelligent metering systems or smart grids, where appropriate.

12.Member States shall ensure the provision of single points of contact to provide consumers with all necessary information concerning their rights, current legislation and the means of dispute settlement available to them in the event of a dispute. Such contact points may be part of general consumer information points.

13.Member States shall ensure that an independent mechanism such as an energy ombudsman or a consumer body is in place in order to ensure efficient treatment of complaints and out-of-court dispute settlements.

14.Member States may decide not to apply the provisions of Articles 7, 8, 32 and/or 34 insofar as their application would obstruct the performance, in law or in fact, of the obligations imposed on electricity undertakings in the general economic interest and insofar as the development of trade would not be affected to such an extent as would be contrary to the interests of the Community. The interests of the Community include, inter alia, competition with regard to eligible customers in accordance with this Directive and Article 86 of the Treaty.

15.Member States shall, upon implementation of this Directive, inform the Commission of all measures adopted to fulfil universal service and public service obligations, including consumer protection and environmental protection, and their possible effect on national and international competition, whether or not such measures require a derogation from this Directive. They shall inform the Commission subsequently every two years of any changes to such measures, whether or not they require a derogation from this Directive.

16.The Commission shall establish, in consultation with relevant stakeholders including Member States, the national regulatory authorities, consumer organisations, electricity undertakings and, building on the progress achieved to date, social partners, a clear and concise energy consumer checklist of practical information relating to energy consumer rights. Member States shall ensure that electricity suppliers or distribution system operators, in cooperation with the regulatory authority, take the necessary steps to provide their consumers with a copy of the energy consumer checklist and ensure that it is made publicly available.

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