Brussels, 30 June 2006
The European Commission has decided to pursue infringement procedures against 14 Member States for failure to implement in national law one or more of five different Internal Market Directives. The Commission will refer Slovenia and the United Kingdom to the European Court of Justice over non-implementation of a Directive on institutions providing occupational pensions. The Commission will also refer Portugal to the Court over non-implementation of a Directive on reorganisation and winding up of credit institutions. Meanwhile the Commission has decided to formally ask 12 Member States - Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom - to implement a Directive on resale right in the area of copyright. 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. In addition, the Commission has decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send letters of formal notice asking the United Kingdom for full information on its execution of a European Court judgement concerning the implementation of a Directive on recognition of professional qualifications for the territory of Gibraltar, and asking Luxembourg for full information on its execution of a European Court judgement concerning implementation of a Directive on accounting rules. Finally, the Commission welcomes the fact that all Member States have now implemented the Directive on legal protection of biotechnological inventions.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: “Although Member States have recently made impressive overall progress in implementing single market laws, some unfortunately still lag behind. In doing so they are effectively denying citizens and businesses across Europe 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.”
Institutions providing occupational pensions – Slovenia and the United Kingdom referred to Court of Justice
The Commission has decided to refer Slovenia and the United Kingdom to the European Court of Justice for not having written Directive 2003/41/EC on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision (the IORP Directive) into their national laws, or for having done so only partially. These States have not replied to the Commission's reasoned opinion sent in April 2006. The Directive should have been transposed by all Member States by 23 September 2005.
The IORP Directive is part of the Financial Services Action plan and completes the internal market as far as institutions providing occupational pensions are concerned. Whilst recognising that Member States' systems for occupational pensions differ widely, the Directive provides harmonised rules for prudential supervision and capital requirements for these institutions. The Directive also lays down rules for the cross-border provision of occupational pensions. The current asymmetric state of implementation prevents pension institutions from providing cross-border services under equal conditions throughout the internal market.
Reorganisation and winding up of credit institutions – Portugal
The Commission has decided to refer Portugal 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. Portugal has not yet notified the Commission of any measures transposing the Directive into national law, even though the deadline for transposition expired on the 5 May 2004 and a reasoned opinion was sent to Portugal in July 2005.
Resale right Directive – Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom
The Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to the above 12 Member States regarding non-implementation of the resale right Directive, which is intended to ensure that authors of graphic art get a share of the profit made from the successive sales of their original works of art by art market professionals. Given that the resale right existed in some Member States and not in others, the Directive put an end to the discrimination which previously existed among authors, depending on the location of the sale. The Directive was adopted in 2001 and Member States had until the 1 January 2006 to adopt national measures implementing it.
Recognition of professional qualifications – United Kingdom
The Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to the United Kingdom over its failure to comply with the Court’s judgment of 20 October 2005 (Case C-505/04) regarding failure to communicate measures transposing into national law Directive 2001/19/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications with regard to the territory of Gibraltar.
The Directive, proposed by the Commission in 1997, is part of the SLIM initiative, which aims to simplify legislation on the internal market. It makes it considerably easier to update the lists of diplomas, certificates and evidence of formal qualifications that can be recognised automatically. The operation of the general system for the recognition of professional qualifications has also been improved.
The time limit for transposing Directive 2001/19/EC expired on 1 January 2003. Since then, the United Kingdom has adopted transposition measures for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales but not for Gibraltar.
Following the Court’s judgment, the United Kingdom authorities have notified the Commission of implementing measures for Gibraltar with regard to the medical professions. They have not notified measures concerning the general system for the recognition of diplomas. If such measures are not adopted, the Court could impose a penalty payment on the United Kingdom.
Accounting rules – Luxembourg
The Commission has requested Luxembourg to comply with the judgement of the European Court of Justice in case C-115/05, Commission v. Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, delivered on 8 December 2005.
In this Judgment, the European Court of Justice declared that Luxembourg has failed to fulfil its obligations to transpose Directive 2001/65/EC on accounting rules into its national legal order.
Directive 2001/65/EC amends Directives 78/660/EEC, 83/349/EEC and 86/635/EEC. These Directives define which types of companies have to produce accounts, establish which format should be used for the profit and loss account and the balance sheet and lay down which valuation principles should be applied. The Directives also impose requirements to disclose the accounts.
The IAS Regulation, adopted in June 2002, requires all EU companies listed on a regulated market - such as a stock exchange - to use IAS from 2005 onwards and allows Member States to extend this requirement to all companies. Where IAS are not applied, the 4th and 7th Company Law Directives (78/660/EEC and 83/349/EEC), also known as the Accounting Directives, will continue to be the basis of EU accounting requirements and may therefore remain applicable to up to 5 million companies in Europe. They needed to be modernised.
Directive 2001/65/EC brought EU accounting requirements into line with modern accounting theory and practice. It allows for certain financial assets and liabilities to be valued at fair value. This will enable European companies to report in conformity with current international developments.
The Commission's request to Luxembourg takes the form of a letter of formal notice under the enforcement procedure under Article 228 of the EC Treaty. If the national authorities do not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may, if appropriate, issue a reasoned opinion as provided for in Article 228(2) of the Treaty establishing the European Community. The Court of Justice may impose, under Article 228(2) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, financial penalties on a Member State that fails to comply with its judgment.
Biotechnology – all Member States have implemented the EU legislation on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions
The Commission welcomes the fact that all Member States have now implemented
in their national laws Directive 98/44/EC on the legal protection of
biotechnological inventions. This Directive 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 fully exploit the medical, environmental and economic potential of
biotechnology in line with high ethical standards.