The European Union's Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, has expressed disappointment that several member countries have not met the requirement to open their natural gas and electricity markets to business customers by July 1 2004. He has threatened to take ten countries – Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Spain and Sweden – to court if they do not open these markets within two months.

Piebalgs believes the recent increases in electricity and gas prices have come about largely because the market is not functioning as it should. He has sent warning letters to the ten countries, one of the last steps before opening court proceedings at the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, which is able to impose heavy fines if needs be.