Upon the emergence of the Internal Electricity Market (IEM) in the European Union, the leaders of the four above-mentioned regional organisations recognised the need for an EU-wide harmonisation of network access and conditions for usage, especially for cross-border electricity trade. In 1999, ETSO was created as an association with ATSOI, UKTSOA, NORDEL and UCTE as founding association members. However, on 29 June 2001 ETSO became an International Association with direct membership of 32 independent TSO companies from the 15 countries of the European Union plus Norway and Switzerland. At the end of 2001 ETSO membership was enlarged to Slovenia and CENTREL countries as full and associate members respectively. The Czech Republic was admitted as full member in June 2003 and Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in 2004.
The Estonian TSO has become ETSO Associate Member in September 2004 and the Lithuanian TSO in February 2005.
The networks represented by ETSO supply more than 450 million people with electric energy. The consumption of electric energy amounts to approx. 3000 TWh per year.

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