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Brussels, 18 March 2010

Commission takes further steps against Austria, Greece, Ireland and Luxembourg

The Commission has taken further steps against Austria, Ireland, Greece and Luxembourg because it believes these Member States are breaking EU law, creating obstacles to the free movement of goods. The Commission is bound to ensure that EU law is correctly implemented.

In March 2010, the Commission decided to send 6 reasoned opinions and to refer 2 cases to the European Court of Justice. In most cases this is because Member States have not notified to Commission national laws they are obliged to adopt to give effect to Directives.

1. Reasoned opinion for breach of Directive

  • It is alleged that the Greek authorities continue to apply the provisions of a national decree on steam generators which contain design requirements that contravene Directive 97/23/EC on pressure equipment thus hindering the import of such generators from other Member States (Case: 2008/4169)

2. Reasoned opinions for not notifying national measures

  • Ireland and Austria: Commission Directive 2009/19/EC, adapting to technical progress Council Directive 72/245/EEC relating to the radio interference (electromagnetic compatibility) of vehicles (Cases: 2009/0415 and 2009/0492).

  • Austria and Greece: Commission Directive 2008/43/EC setting up, pursuant to Council Directive 93/15/EEC, a system for the identification and traceability of explosives for civil uses (Cases 2009/0431 and 2009/0447)

  • Ireland: Directive 2008/89/EC adapting to technical progress Council Directive 76/756/EEC concerning the installation of lighting and light-signalling devices on motor vehicles and their trailers (Case 2009/0512).

3. Referrals to Court for not notifying national measures

  • Luxembourg: Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on machinery (Case 2008/0686)

  • Austria: Commission Directive 2008/74/CE amending Directive 2005/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2005/78/EC as regards the type approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) and access to vehicle repair and maintenance information (Case: 2009/0127)


The Commission has been granted the power to bring infringement proceedings against Member States under Articles 258 and 260 TFEU. The aim of such proceedings is not to drag Member States before the Court of Justice but to bring them back into line with EU law during a pre-litigation phase.

The main steps of the pre-litigation procedure are:

1. Letter of formal notice

The letter of formal notice represents the first stage in the pre-litigation procedure, during which the Commission offers the Member State the opportunity to comment on an alleged infringement. The Member State is given two months to reply.

2. Reasoned opinion

Based on the letter of formal notice, the reasoned opinion sets out in detail why the Commission has concluded that the Member State concerned has failed to fulfil one or more of its obligations under the Treaty or other EU legislation. Again, the Member State has two months to reply.

3. Decision to refer a case to the Court of Justice

Referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union opens the litigation procedure.

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