Brussels, 01 October 2010
Applying Community law better
The European Commission has presented today its Annual Report on monitoring the Application of Community Law (2009). The report underlines the critical importance of the full and correct application of EU law in delivering the rights and obligations created by EU law. It makes clear that, even if the situation has slightly improved, one main challenge still remains - the late transposition of directives by Member States. Instruments have been broadened and efforts further increased, in partnership with the Member States, to prevent transposition problems and deliver on an effective application of EU law.
The European Union manages around 8000 legal acts in force in 27 Member States. Challenges are inevitably many and varied, the infringement process playing an essential role in guaranteeing the correct application of European Union Law. The report confirms the high percentage of issues resolved without need for recourse to the European Court of Justice (95% of complaints closed before a ruling of the ECJ). At the end of 2009, the Commission was handling around 2900 complaints and infringement files, 16% less than in 2008 and a 26% decrease in proceedings for failure to notify measures transposing directives. The number of infringement cases based on complaints decreased by 15% compared to the previous year. The sectors which have the most significant case load continue to be environment, taxation, energy, transport and internal market.
Priority areas of action
The report identifies the progress made over the last year on the implementation, management and enforcement of EU Law:
Late transposition and preventive measures: Despite some improvement registered this year, late transposition continues to constitute a widespread, systematic problem affecting EU enterprises and citizens. The Commission encourages increased cooperation with Member States on preventive measures to ensure better and timely implementation and application of the law.
Correlation tables: Correlation tables contribute to transparency and improve access to law. They improve the cooperation between the Commission and Member States when reviewing transposition, allowing early identification of issues and dialogue to avoid later, more fixed problems. The Commission will continue to seek support from all EU institutions for the comprehensive provision of these tables.
Expert Groups: Their importance in managing the application of EU law is underlined through examples which confirm the great variety and volume of work devoted to maximizing the benefits of EU legislation.
Responding to citizens and complaint registration: Horizontal instruments such as SOLVIT and EU Pilot continue to develop and give good results. SOLVIT increased the volume of files while maintaining a constantly high rate of success. EU Pilot allows for early resolution of transposition and/or application problems. Member States are actively contributing to the success of these instruments.
Enforcement issues: More attention needs to be paid to enforcement measures in the preparation of new legislation. These can be of horizontal application or designed for specific sectors. When EU Legislation contains enforcement measures, like rights to appeal decisions, the Commission will work to ensure the full use of such measures, concentrating its efforts on their correct implementation and application.
Infringement proceedings: The Commission updates and confirms the priority attached to the most timely and effective application of the law in the widest interest of the greatest number of citizens and enterprises.
Reporting: EU legislation often includes an obligation for the Commission to produce a report on the early application of the measure. The Commission stresses the value of these reports, based on Member States contributions, in the increased attention paid to the evaluation of the impact of EU law.
Following a request made by the European Parliament the Commission presents, every year, since 1984, an annual report on monitoring the application of Community law during the preceding year.
In 2007 in its Communication on 'A Europe of Result – Applying Community Law' COM (2007) 502, the Commission announced it would give the annual report a new, forward looking focus on strategic issues, evaluation of the current state of the law and priorities and programming of future work.
The 27th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of Community Law (2009) and the accompanying documents are available on Europa website. Statistics on recent transposition records of Member States are to be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/directives/directives_communication_en.htm