Brussels, 18 March 2010
Internal Market: Commission takes action to ensure that 12 Member States implement EU rules
In order to ensure EU citizens and companies fully benefit from the internal market, the European Commission has taken action against a total of 12 Member States. Greece, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal will be referred to the Court of Justice over legislation on prudential assessment of acquisitions in the financial sector, as will Poland over legislation on pension funds. The Commission will send reasoned opinions to Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden over non-implementation of the Shareholders' Rights Directive. Ireland and Spain will be asked in a letter of formal notice for full information on their implementation of the third anti-money laundering Directive following a previous Court judgment on the matter, as will Austria and France in relation to the Professional Qualifications Directive.
Prudential assessment of acquisitions in the financial sector – Greece, Netherlands, Poland and Portugal
Greece, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal are to be referred to the European Court of Justice over their implementation of the Directive which lays down the procedures and criteria for the prudential assessment of acquisitions and increase of holdings in the financial sector. This Directive (2007/44/EC) tightens the procedures that Member States' supervisory authorities have to follow and determines the criteria they must apply when assessing proposed mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or increase of capital participations in the banking, insurance and securities sectors.
The deadline for transposing the Directive was 21 March 2009. Greece and Poland have only partially transposed the Directive, while the Netherlands and Portugal have still not adopted any measures transposing the Directive into national law. These countries were sent a reasoned opinion in November 2009.
Poland is to be referred to the Court of Justice over its implementation of the Directive on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision. Given that the Directive (2003/41/EC) contains no derogations or relevant transitional periods as far as transposition into national law is concerned, all Member States have to transpose the Directive in its entirety. The transposition deadline was 23 September 2005.
In 2009, the Commission issued a reasoned opinion to Poland. Poland is preparing a draft law transposing the directive. The Commission will examine the law as soon as it is adopted. Should the new law prove to be incomplete, the Commission will take appropriate action.
Shareholders rights – Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden
The Shareholders' Rights Directive imposes on Member States the obligation to transpose by 3 August 2009 at the latest. In the absence of implementation at national level, the Commission has decided to address reasoned opinions to Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.
The Shareholders' Rights Directive introduces minimum standards to ensure that shareholders of companies whose shares are traded on a regulated market have a timely access to the relevant information ahead of the general meeting and simple means to vote at a distance. Important elements of this are the publication of documents on the internet as well as enabling proxy voting and electronic participation. The Directive also abolishes share blocking and introduces minimum standards for the rights to ask questions, to put items on the general meeting agenda and to table resolutions. The Directive allows Member States to take additional measures to facilitate further the exercise of the rights referred to in the Directive.
Anti-money laundering – Ireland and Spain
The 3rd Anti-Money Laundering Directive imposes on Member States the obligation to transpose by 15 December 2007. In the absence of implementation at national level, the Court of Justice declared that Ireland and Spain failed to fulfil their obligations under that Directive. The Commission is now asking these two Member States, in a letter of formal notice (under Article 260), for full information on their compliance with this judgment.
The Directive is applicable to the financial sector as well as to lawyers, notaries, accountants, real estate agents, casinos, trust and company service providers. Its scope also encompasses all providers of goods, when payments are made in cash in excess of €15.000. Those subject to the Directive need to:
identify and verify the identity of their customer and of its beneficial owner, and to monitor their business relationship with the customer;
report suspicions of money laundering or terrorist financing to the public authorities -usually, the national financial intelligence unit; and
take supporting measures, such as ensuring a proper training of the personnel and the establishment of appropriate internal preventive policies and procedures.
The Directive introduces additional requirements and safeguards for situations of higher risk (e.g. trading with correspondent banks situated outside the EU).
Professional qualifications – Austria and France
Austria and France will both receive a letter of formal notice (under Article 260) requesting full information on the measures they have taken to comply with previous judgments of the Court of Justice regarding the implementation of a Directive on professional qualifications (2005/36/EC). The transposition deadline was 20 October 2007. Austria's judgment was given on 24.09.2009 (C-477/08); France's on 01.10.2009 (C-468/08).
Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States: