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European Commission - Press release
Commission takes legal action against Bulgaria for failing to fully implement the first railway package
Brussels, 26 January 2012 - The European Commission has decided today to refer Bulgaria to the European Court of Justice for having failed to implement correctly different parts of the legislation known as the first railway package. This concerns the implementation of the provisions on charges which railway undertakings have to pay for access to the infrastructure.
The EU rules
The main objective of the first railway package is to create a basis for market opening and competition in rail services. The provisions of its directives aim in particular at ensuring the independence of the infrastructure manager from railway undertakings, the basic principles guaranteeing non-discriminatory track access charging and the setting up of a regulator to address obstacles to competition in access to rail infrastructure.
Member States were required to implement these directives by 15 March 2003. In the case of Bulgaria, they had to be implemented by the accession date 1 January 2007. Member States were also required to inform the Commission of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions enacted at national level in order to comply with the European rules.
The reason for referring the case to the Court of Justice
After detailed enquiries about the transposition in Bulgaria, an infringement proceeding started in June 2008 with the sending of a letter of formal notice for incorrect transposition of the railway directives. Following modifications introduced in their domestic legislation in order to comply with European legislation on a number of issues, a reasoned opinion was sent in March 2010 on the remaining infringement in relation to its railway track access charges. After having analysed the replies of the Bulgarian authorities, the Commission has decided today to refer Bulgaria, which still does not implement EU rules properly, to the Court of Justice.
The practical effect of incorrect transposition
Incorrect transposition of the first railway package directives1 results in obstacles to market access and a lack of transparency of access conditions. This prevents the establishment of a fully functioning internal market for rail services in Europe. The EU rules on track access charges aim to encourage an optimal use of the rail infrastructure by offering attractive access conditions for railway operators. The different segments of the market should normally only have to pay the cost directly incurred as a result of operating a train service (direct or marginal costs). Infrastructure managers can only impose mark-ups to these direct costs on market segments which are able to pay higher fees. Incorrect transposition may lead to access charges which are too high and therefore exclude certain market segments from the markets. Incorrect application of the charging rules may also lead to unjustified discrimination between railways operating in different market segments.
The next steps
The referral to the European Court of Justice is the third step of the infringement procedure and starts the litigation phase. The Court of Justice will now have to decide on the issue raised by the Commission in its referral. If the Court comes to the conclusion that EU law is infringed, Bulgaria will be required to take the necessary measures to comply with the judgment.
More information on infringement procedures: MEMO/12/42
The infringement proceedings concern the lack of implementation of the Directives 91/440/EEC as amended and 2001/14/EC