Directive 98/30/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas has recently been published in the Official Journal. The Directive will enter into force on 20 August 1998 and Member States have two years from then to establish the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary for compliance. The Directive establishes common rules relating to the organisation and functioning of the natural gas sector, access to the market, the operation of systems, and the criteria and procedures applicable to the granting of authorisations for transmission, distribution, supply and storage of natural gas. Provision is also made in the Directive for the authorisation, construction and use of direct supply lines as well as for dispute settlement procedures. The legislation is seen as an important element in the completion of the internal energy market which favours the interconnection and interoperability of energy systems. This will be established gradually, in order to enable industry to adjust and to take account of the different market structures in the Member States and provision for temporary derogations is included in the legislation.