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IP/06/14

Brussels, 10 January 2006

Internal Market: Commission acts to ensure seven Member States implement EU laws

The European Commission has decided to pursue infringement procedures against seven Member States for failure to implement in national law one or more of eight different Internal Market Directives. The Commission has decided to refer the following Member States to the European Court of Justice over non-communication of national measures implementing certain Directives: the Czech Republic regarding Directives on recognition of dental and medical qualifications; Estonia regarding a Directive on postal services; Greece and Italy regarding the Accounting Modernisation Directive; Luxembourg and Sweden regarding a Directive on supplementary supervision of financial conglomerates; and Greece regarding a Directive on reorganisation and winding up of credit institutions. In addition, the Commission has decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send further “reasoned opinions” to France, requesting it to comply immediately with a previous judgement of the Court on its non-implementation of the 2001 Copyright Directive, and to Luxembourg, requesting it to comply immediately with a previous Court judgement requiring it to implement EU law on legal protection of biotechnological inventions. If France and Luxembourg do not comply, the Commission can ultimately ask the Court to impose daily fines.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: “Member States' recent progress in implementing single market laws has been impressive, and I hope this trend continues in next month's Scoreboard. However, some Member States still lag behind and are effectively denying citizens and businesses across Europe the full benefit of the single market and of measures their governments have themselves agreed. I must reiterate that the Commission will do all it can to help Member States implement laws on time, but will continue to take remedial action where necessary.”

Czech Republic: recognition of dental and medical qualifications

The Commission has decided to refer the Czech Republic to the Court of Justice over its partial communication of national measures implementing Directives 78/686/EEC and 93/16/EEC on the mutual recognition of the diplomas of practitioners of dentistry and doctors respectively.

Under the Treaty of Accession, the Czech Republic had to take all necessary measures to comply with these Directives by 1 May 2004 at the latest.

The Directives apply both to establishment and to the freedom to provide services on a temporary basis. To promote the freedom to provide services by the professionals in question, provision has been made for a simpler procedure than that required for establishment.

However, the Czech Republic has adopted and notified the Commission of various measures to implement the above Directives, but none to promote the temporary provision of services by professionals established in other Member States.

Postal services: Estonia

The Commission has decided to refer Estonia to the European Court of Justice following its failure to notify to the Commission national legislation transposing the provisions of Directive 2002/39/EC, which amends Directive 97/67/EC with regard to the further opening to competition of EU postal services.

Accounting Modernisation Directive: Greece and Italy

The Commission has decided to refer Greece and Italy to the European Court of Justice over their non-transposition of the Accounting Modernisation Directive (2003/51/EC). The deadline for implementation was 1 January 2005. Although a reasoned opinion was sent in July 2005 (see IP/05/1037), no national implementing measures have yet been communicated to the Commission.

The adoption of the Modernisation Directive was part of the Financial Services Action Plan. This Directive amends the 4th Company Law Directive (78/660/EEC) on annual accounts and the 7th Company Law Directive (83/349/EC) on consolidated accounts. The Modernisation Directive updates a number of accounting categories and provides more flexibility for companies when drawing their annual and consolidated accounts. The non-transposition of this Directive deprives certain Italian and Greek companies of an up-to-date accounting framework and undermines the comparability of their accounts with competitors from other countries of the European Economic Area.

Supplementary supervision of financial conglomerates: Luxembourg and Sweden

The European Commission has decided to refer Luxembourg and Sweden to the European Court of Justice for non-communication of the measures transposing Directive 2002/87/EC on the supplementary supervision of credit institutions, insurance undertakings and investment firms in a financial conglomerate. This Directive lays down specific measures for the prudential supervision of financial conglomerates, i.e. financial groups with activities in both the banking/investment services and insurance sectors. 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 deadline for transposing the Directive expired on 11 August 2004. Both Luxembourg and Sweden have still not notified the Commission of any measures transposing the Directive into national law, even though both countries were sent a reasoned opinion in July 2005.

Reorganisation and winding up of credit institutions: Greece

The Commission has decided to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice for non-transposition of Directive 2001/24/EC on the reorganisation and winding-up of credit institutions.

The Directive provides that in case of failure of a credit institution with branches in different Member States, the winding-up process is subject to a single bankruptcy proceeding initiated in the Member State where the credit institution has its registered office (known as the home state) and governed by a single bankruptcy law, that of the home state. As long as the Directive is not implemented fully by all Member States, there is a risk of conflict of jurisdictions and the equal treatment of creditors in the different Member States is not guaranteed. Greece has not yet notified the Commission of any measures transposing the Directive in national law, even though the deadline for transposition expired on 5 May 2004 and a reasoned opinion was sent to Greece in July 2005.

2001 Copyright Directive: France

The Commission has decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send a further reasoned opinion to France, requesting it to comply immediately with a previous judgement of the European Court of Justice on its non-implementation of the 2001 Copyright Directive.

The 2001 Copyright Directive is an essential plank in updating EU copyright law and providing an adequate level of copyright protection for authors and other right-holders in the digital environment. In this respect, the Copyright Directive requires Member States to provide adequate legal protection against “hacking” or other disabling of that “anti-copying” devices and other equipment used to protect copyright when works are published digitally. It is therefore regrettable that France has still not implemented its provisions into domestic law.

Moreover, the Directive is the instrument by which the European Union and its Member States implement the two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) "Internet Treaties" which have adapted copyright protection to digital technology. This makes implementation into national laws all the more urgent.

Legal protection of biotechnological inventions: Luxembourg

The Commission has decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send a further reasoned opinion to Luxembourg, requesting it to comply immediately with a previous European Court of Justice judgement requiring it to write into national law Directive 98/44/EC on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions (Case C-450/03, 9 September 2004).The Directive should have been written into national law by 30 July 2000. It aims to clarify certain principles of patent law applied to biotechnological inventions whilst ensuring that strict ethical rules are respected. 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 two Member States have not implemented the Directive: Luxembourg and Latvia. Non-implementation creates trade barriers and hampers the Internal Market, putting the European biotechnology sector at a serious disadvantage.


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