The distribution system is a key part of the electricity chain. It links bulk production with end consumers. Recently, radical changes have taken place in every segment of the power industry. These are calling for a changing role of the Distribution System Operators (DSOs) in Europe. This report provides a clear picture of the features of distribution grids in Europe, on the way they are operated and how far DSOs are from the paved provisions proposed in the recent Electricity Directive of the European Commission.