BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission said yesterday it was taking legal action against 16 European Union countries for privileges they give to public notaries. The EU executive sent «reasoned opinions,» or final warnings, to Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Luxembourg and the Netherlands on the grounds that they permit only their own nationals to qualify and practice as notaries. The Commission also started legal proceedings against the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia for the same offense. Portugal was given a final warning before being taken to the European Court of Justice following its failure to put in place EU rules regarding the profession of a notary. The Commission wants to make the EU economy more efficient and the notaries measure was part of a raft of moves yesterday to remove barriers to competition.