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Brussels, 19 May 2011

Commission asks ten Member States to implement the Directive aimed at improving safety of European railways

The European Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to ten Member States formally requesting to fully implement the last amendment to the Railway Safety Directive. Austria, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have so far failed to bring their national legislation into line with this Directive although obliged to do so by 24 December 2010. The Commission has set a two-month deadline for these Member States to remedy the situation. Should the Member States fail to do so, the Commission may refer the cases to the Court of Justice.

The EU rules

The aim of the Directive 2008/110/EC is to improve the level of safety of the European rail transport system. It provides a legal basis for a common framework for the maintenance of rolling stock: before a rail vehicle is allowed to be put into service, the ”entity” responsible for its maintenance (known as the "entity in charge of maintenance" or ECM) must be identified. For freight wagons, the ECM must be certified according to a system developed by the European Railway Agency and adopted by the Commission on 10 May 2011. Member States had until 24 December 2010 to transpose the Directive into their national legislation and to notify domestic implementation measures to the Commission.

An essential provision of the Directive is that the certificate granted to an ECM is valid throughout the European Union. This provision, which recognises equivalence between the ECMs, is therefore intended to raise the level of railway safety throughout the EU and ensure interoperability.

The reason for today's action

Directive 2008/110/EC has not yet been transposed, or has been transposed only partially, by ten Member States: Austria, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden and United Kingdom.

The practical effect of non-implementation

Failure to implement the directive would prevent achieving the expected level of safety. This will affect not only those countries that have not implemented Directive 2008/110/EC but the whole European single railway area as well.

The next step

If the Member States do not adapt their legislation within the two-month deadline, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/312

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