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Brussels, 18 September 2008

Reasoned opinion addressed to Belgium for failing to fully transpose the Directive on the granting of authorisations relating to hydrocarbon deposits

The European Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Belgium as a result of the country's non-compliance with Community legislation aimed at guaranteeing non-discriminatory access to activities relating to the prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons[1].

The Community legislation in question, which is designed to promote transparency and competition in the sector, requires that a list of competent authorities be published, that all interested entities be able to submit applications within the framework of the procedures for granting authorisations, and that the final selection of applications be made on the basis of objective, non-discriminatory criteria.

The procedures in Belgium do not satisfy these requirements. For example, there are rules in force which require the use of criteria which are incompatible with Community legislation (e.g. impact on the economy). Furthermore, publication of the list of competent authorities has still not been completed.

A letter of formal notice was sent to the Belgian authorities in February 2008. Since the Belgian response was not satisfactory, the Commission has decided to move ahead with the infringement procedure.

Belgium has two months to respond to the reasoned opinion. The Commission will then decide whether or not to take the matter to the Court of Justice.

[1] Directive 94/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 1994 on the conditions for granting and using authorisations for the prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons.

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