The European Commission sent a final warning to eight member states of the European Union Thursday, for failing to transpose into their national laws an EU-wide law designed to curb spam and control the use of cookies.

An initial warning was sent to nine countries last November but only one of them, Sweden, has taken action to remedy the situation. The final warning has been sent to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands and Portugal. Failure to respond within two months will result in legal action before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The Commission is determined to keep up pressure on member states that have not implemented the legislation they signed in 2002, it said in a statement. The directive is vital to ensure privacy and data protection for Internet users in the EU, it said.

The directive on privacy and electronic communications sets EU-wide rules for the protection of privacy and personal data in mobile and fixed communications, including the internet.

It bans unsolicited e-mail, or spam, throughout the EU and sets rules for installing cookies on users' personal computers. Cookies are small files sent by a web server and stored in a Web browser. They can be used to record browsing preferences or identify the visitor to the site which sent them. The Commission said this law is vital in that it will strengthen consumer confidence in e-commerce and electronic services.

Regarding spam, the legal obligations in this directive have been complemented by a series of actions to help enforce the E.U. ban on spam, presented in a Communication adopted in January. These actions focus on effective enforcement by member states, technical and self-regulatory solutions by industry, consumer awareness and international cooperation.

The deadline for incorporating the directive into national law was 32 October 2003, but only six member states had taken all necessary measures to transpose it by that date.