The Third Package of directives and regulation, which entered into force on 3 March 2011, introduced a new system for establishing binding European-wide network codes. Developing binding network codes entails several steps.
First of all, the European Commission (EC) draws the "annual priority list", identifying the areas to be included in the development of network codes.
In setting the priorities, the EC has to consult:
Since 2009 a "planning group" including the EC, ACER and the ENTSOs oversees the respect of the third package procedures. The planning group drew up a 3-year work plan for electricity and gas which is updated on a regular basis.
Once established the annual priority list, the EC invites ACER to develop the "Framework Guidelines", setting clear and objective principles for the development of the network code. They remain non-binding for 6 months.
Once the EC realises that the "Framework Guidelines" facilitates the development of the internal market, it requests ENTSOG or ENTSO-E to prepare a network code based on the Framework Guideline within one year.
The network code is then submitted to ACER for a reasoned opinion. Taking into account their degree of compliance with the Framework Guidelines and the fulfillment of the third package objectives, ACER submits the network code to the EC and may recommend that it be adopted within a reasonable time period via comitology.