Brussels, 18 October 2005
The European Commission has decided to pursue a total of 14 infringement cases involving 12 Member States for failure to implement in national law one or more of five different Internal Market Directives. The Commission is to refer the Netherlands to the European Court of Justice because it has not notified the Commission of national measures implementing the 2002 Financial Collateral Directive. The Commission will also formally request Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta, Portugal and Spain to implement the Insurance Mediation Directive. In addition, France will be formally requested to implement the Directive on supplementary supervision of financial conglomerates. Meanwhile, Estonia will receive a formal request to complete its implementation of a Directive modifying the definition of ‘credit institutions’ in the Banking Directive, as will Latvia for clarification of the measures it has taken to implement the Directive on legal protection of biotechnological inventions. These requests take the form of “reasoned opinions”, the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: “Member States have made impressive overall progress recently in implementing single market laws, but some are still lagging behind. When a Directive is not implemented across all Member States, citizens and businesses across Europe are denied the full benefit of the single market and of measures their governments have themselves agreed. The Commission will do all it can to help Member States implement laws on time, but will continue to take remedial action where necessary.”
Directive on Financial Collateral arrangements: Netherlands
The Commission has decided to refer the Netherlands to the European Court of Justice for non-transposition into national law of the Financial Collateral Directive (2002/47/EC). This follows a reasoned opinion in December 2004 (see IP/04/1533).
All Member States should have implemented and applied the Directive by 27 December 2003. The fact that not all have done so distorts and disturbs the harmonised system of simplified financial collateral arrangements that the Directive is intended to put in place and to guarantee.
The Directive creates a clear and uniform EU legal framework to limit credit risk in financial transactions through the provision of financial instruments and cash as collateral and is a priority measure under the Financial Services Action Plan. Collateral is a huge market in the EU, with the total value of outstanding contracts on the market for repurchase agreements ('repos') alone estimated to be worth around 2 trillion euros.
Collateral is the assets (such as securities) provided by a borrower to a lender to minimise the risk of financial loss to the lender in the event of the borrower failing to meet in full their financial obligations to the lender. It is also used to protect the exposure of both parties in repurchase and derivatives transactions, among others. Before the Directive, market operators in the European Union faced widely divergent national legal regimes for the provision of collateral, leading to uncertainty over the effectiveness of collateral in cross-border transactions.
Insurance Mediation: Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta, Portugal and Spain
The Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta, Portugal and Spain asking these ten Member States to write the Insurance Mediation Directive 2002/92/EC into national law. This Directive should have been implemented by all Member States by 15 January 2005. The reasoned opinions follow the letters of formal notice sent to fourteen Member States in March 2005. Meanwhile, Finland, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden have communicated national implementing legislation and the proceedings against these four States will be discontinued.
The Insurance Mediation Directive has improved choice and reinforced protection for customers while helping insurance intermediaries such as insurance brokers to market their services across borders. The Directive requires all intermediaries to be registered in their home Member State. To obtain that registration, they have to meet strict requirements. Once registered in their home Member State, insurance intermediaries are free to sell their services anywhere in the EU. The current asymmetric state of implementation distorts the market and prevents insurance intermediaries from providing their services on equal terms within the Internal Market.
Supplementary supervision of financial conglomerates: France
The European Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to France for incomplete transposition of Directive 2002/87/EC on the supplementary supervision of financial conglomerates. Financial conglomerates are cross-sectoral financial groups with activities in both the banking/investment services and insurance sectors. This Directive lays down specific measures for the prudential supervision of these financial groups with a view to ensuring their financial soundness and solvency. Once properly implemented by all Member States, the Directive will benefit consumers, depositors and investors in the European Union by stimulating financial market efficiency and increasing competition. The Directive was a priority measure under the Financial Services Action Plan.
Activity of e-money institutions: Estonia
The Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to Estonia for incomplete transposition of Directive 2000/28/EC, which modifies the definition of credit institutions in the Banking Directive (Directive 2000/12/EC on the taking up, pursuit of and prudential supervision of credit institutions), in order to include electronic money institutions.
Legal protection of biotechnological inventions: Latvia
The European Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion asking Latvia
for a full explanation of the measures it has taken to implement in its national
law Directive 98/44/EC on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions.
For the Member States that joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, this
Directive is part of the “acquis communautaire”. It aims to clarify
certain principles of substantive patent law applied to biotechnological
inventions while ensuring compliance with rigorous ethical rules. Such
clarifications have proved essential in order to exploit fully the medical,
environmental and economic potential of biotechnology in line with high ethical
standards. To date only three Member States have not implemented the Directive:
Italy, Luxembourg and Latvia. Non-implementation creates trade barriers and
hampers the Internal Market, putting the European biotechnology sector at a