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Monitoring the application of Community law

The task of monitoring the application of Community law is carried out by the European Commission as the guardian of the Treaties. Since the European Union is based on law, such monitoring is essential to ensure compliance with and proper application of Community law by and in the Member States. In exercising its monitoring function, the Commission also takes care to safeguard the role which is assigned to national authorities, particularly the courts, in this area.

The Commission gathers information and then warns and penalises Member States if they fail to comply with the European Treaties. Poor compliance or non-compliance with the Treaties may result from administrative oversight, technical difficulties in applying the text or difficulties of implementation.

If a Member State has failed to fulfil its obligations, the Commission may deliver a reasoned opinion after giving the State concerned an opportunity to submit its observations. If this opinion remains without effect, the Commission may bring the case before the Court of Justice (infringement proceedings against a State under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

In this connection, the Commission may ask the Court to impose a financial penalty on the Member State concerned if the latter has not complied with its reasoned opinion. This power greatly increases its ability to monitor proper application of Community law.

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