Brussels, 3 April 2008
The European Commission has decided to send formal requests to Italy regarding lawyers' fees, to Slovakia regarding disclosure of privatisation agreements, and to the United Kingdom regarding implementation of a Directive on motor insurance. These formal 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.
Italy – compliance with maximum fees imposed for lawyers
The Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Italy concerning its regulations on compulsory maximum fees for lawyers' services under Articles 43 and 49 of the EC Treaty guaranteeing the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services within the European Union respectively.
The Commission questions the need for such provisions, the result of which is to restrict the access of service providers from other Member States to the Italian market, while not however guaranteeing access to justice and its proper administration or protecting those receiving the services in a way which is proportionate with the general interest objectives sought.
Slovakia – disclosure of privatisation agreements
The Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to the Slovak Republic for the infringement of Article 10 of the EC Treaty, following the Slovak refusal (for reasons of confidentiality) to make the complete privatisation agreements of Západnoslovenská energetika, a. s., Strednoslovenská energetika, a. s. and Východnoslovenská energetika, a.s. available to the Commission.
Under Article 10 of the Treaty, Member States are required to cooperate in good faith with the Community institutions. In the absence of the requested information, the Commission is unable to perform the role entrusted to it by the Treaty i.e. the monitoring of the compatibility of national measures with Articles 43 and 56. In all issues involving confidentiality of documents in the possession of European Institutions, the Commission is bound by Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. Furthermore, the Commission has put in place rules, procedures and means for the protection of any kind of confidential information. Finally, the Commission, its members and officials are, even after their duties have ceased, bound to respect professional secrecy pursuant to Article 287 of the EC Treaty.
Against this background, the Commission considers that Slovakia's refusal to make the Privatisation Agreements available to it is not justified.
United Kingdom – motor insurance
The Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to the UK for failure to fully implement in national law the Fifth Motor Insurance Directive 2005/14/EC by the agreed date of 11 June 2007. Legislation to transpose the Directive has been adopted in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is, however, not the case in Gibraltar where the adoption of the necessary measures to comply with the Directive has been delayed.
The Directive updates and improves the EU legal framework for motor insurance by making it easier to change insurer and by upgrading the protection of victims.
In the absence of adequate implementation of the Directive, road traffic
accident victims as well as policyholders will not be able to benefit from their