Europe’s smart meter requirements have been set out in the 3rd Energy Package, which came into force on 3 September 2009.

The 3rd Energy Package, which is aimed at completing the liberalisation and integration of the EU energy market, as well as strengthening consumer rights and protection, comprises two directives establishing common rules respectively for the electricity and gas markets, and three regulations covering the establishment of a cooperative agency for energy regulators, network access for cross-border exchanges of electricity, and access to the natural gas transmission networks.

Under the electricity directive, member states are required to undertake an economic assessment of the costs and benefits of smart electricity metering by September 2012. Thereafter a timetable must be prepared for the rollout of the smart metering over a period of up to 10 years, with at least 80% of consumers equipped with a smart meter by 2020.

Similarly an economic assessment of smart gas metering is required to be undertaken by member states by September 2012 and a timetable for rollout prepared, although no rollout deadline is specified.

The 3rd Energy Package must now be transposed into law by member states within 18 months, i.e. by 3 March 2011.