Brussels, 3 June 2010
EU law: Commission acts to ensure that European legislation is fully and properly implemented
In its monthly decision package, the European Commission is pursuing legal action against several Member States for failing to comply with EU law. These decisions cover many sectors. They aim at ensuring proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses. The Commission has taken 226 decisions, including 13 complaints taking 10 Member States before the European Court of Justice, and 3 decisions related to non-application of a Court's ruling.
Formal complaints before the Court of Justice (Art 258)
Following Treaty's provisions, and after having duly discussed with national authorities through letters of formal notice and reasoned opinion, the Commission has decided today to take several Member States to Court for failing to comply with their legal obligations under EU law.
Taxation Policy: The European Commission has decided to refer Austria, Germany and Portugal to the European Court of Justice over discriminatory tax provisions. More specifically cases concerned Austrian rules on fiscal representatives, German discriminatory taxation of foreign pension institution and Portuguese discriminatory taxation of outbound dividends (IP/10/662).
Environment: The European Commission has decided to refer Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, and Luxembourg to the Court of Justice for failing to complete the transposition of legislation on spatial data infrastructure into their national laws. (IP/10/686). Additionally, the European Commission is also taking Court action against Belgium for failing to implement necessary legislation relating to Groundwater Directive. (IP 10/671).
Public procurement: The European Commission has decided to refer the Netherlands to the Court of Justice over the direct award of a public work concessions contract - where the contractor is paid in part by being given the right to exploit the development by Municipality of Eindhoven relating to the development of a community center. (IP 10/679). The European Commission has also decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice over the direct award of waste water disposal service in the city of Hamm. IP/10/683).
Internal market : The European Commission referred today Belgium to the Court of Justice for failing to fulfilling its obligations and imposing on providers of services from others Member States the obligation to make a declaration before being able to exercise their activities in Belgium on temporary basis (IP/10/680)
Data retention: The European Commission referred today Luxemburg to the European Court of Justice for failing to complete transposition of Data Retention Directive into national law (IP 10/677).
Enforcing Court's ruling (Art. 260)
When, despite a first ruling by the Court of Justice, a Member State still fails to act, the Commission warns the Member State in writing. In case of continued lack of appropriate action by the Member State, the Commission will take the Member State again to Court, which can result in a second ruling with a financial penalty for the Member State concerned. Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union constitutes the legal basis for abovementioned procedure.
Public Procurement: The European Commission has formally requested Germany to comply with judgement from 2009 (Case C-536/07). The European Court ruled that Germany had failed to fulfil obligations under the Public Procurement Directives by directly awarding a contract for the construction and renting of trade fair halls between the City of Cologne and a private investment company without organising a competitive tendering procedure. The Commission considers that the German authorities have not taken the necessary measures to comply with the judgment of the Court which obliges them to put an end to the contract concluded in breach of EU law IP/10/683)
Anti-money laundering: The European Commission has sent the formal notice to France to comply with the judgment of the Court of Justice. The 3rd Anti-Money Laundering Directive imposes on Member States the obligation to implement in national law by 15 December 2007. The Court of Justice has already declared that France failed to fulfil its obligation under the Directive (IP 10/681)
Equality: The European Commission has today issued a new request to Italy to comply with a ruling of the European Court of Justice (case C-46/07). Different pensionable ages for male and female civil servants violate the principle of equal pay (case C-46/07). Italy introduced new rules to comply with the Court's judgement, which followed an infringement procedure brought by the European Commission. But in today complementary letter of formal notice, the Commission argues that the Italian measures – which would gradually equalise the pension age over a period of eight years – allow discriminatory treatment to continue. (IP 10/674).
Background on legal process
Under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union the Commission has the power to take legal action against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations under Community law.
The infringement procedure begins with a first written warning ("Letter of Formal Notice") to the Member State concerned, which must be answered within two months.
If the Commission is not satisfied with the reply, this first letter may be followed by a final written warning ("Reasoned Opinion") clearly explaining the infringement, and calling on the Member State to comply within a specified period, usually two months.
A failure to act on the final written warning can result in a summons to the Court of Justice. If the Court rules against the Member State, it must then take the necessary measures to comply with the judgment.
If, despite the ruling, a Member State still fails to act, a further round of the infringement process begins under Article 260 of the Treaty, this time with only one written warning. This second round can ultimately result in financial penalties for the Member State concerned.
For current statistics on infringements in general, see: