The European Commission has decided to refer the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to correctly transpose the European rules on driving licences (Directive 2006/126/EC).
In particular, the Czech Republic failed to ensure in the period 2004-2011 that driving licences are only issued to persons residing in the Czech Republic. This is crucial to combat so-called "driving licence tourism". Driving licences issued in the past in contradiction with the Directive 2006/126/EC which are still valid pose a risk to the credibility of the EU driving licence system and to road safety. The Czech Republic has also failed to fulfil several other obligations such as ensuring that the categories of certain vehicles correspond to those of the Directive.
In addition, the European Commission has decided to refer Estonia, Italy, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Slovenia to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to connect to the EU driving licences network ("RESPER") as required by Directive 2006/126/EC. RESPER can help Member States cooperate with each other and ensure that licences are issued in accordance with EU rules. The exchange of information through RESPER should have started on 19 January 2013.
The European Commission opened infringement proceedings in July 2014, and sent a reasoned opinion to the Member States concerned in February 2015. As it stands today, the Member States have still failed to fulfil their obligations under Directive 2006/126/EC, and therefore the Commission has decided to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Directive 2006/126/EC updates Directive 91/439/EEC on driving licences and introduces, among other things, new driving licence categories and harmonised validity of driving licence documents. It also establishes a network for the exchange of driving licence information (RESPER). These rules help to reduce the possibility of fraud, guarantee true freedom of movement for EU drivers and reinforce safety on European roads (see IP/13/25 and MEMO/13/10).
The Directive provides that driving licences are issued only to persons who have their normal residence, as defined by the Directive, in the issuing Member States. It is the obligation of the issuing Member States to apply due diligence to ensure that all requirements for the issuing of a driving licence are fulfilled.
"Driving licence tourism" refers to the attempts of individual drivers to avoid national restrictions on driving, such as driving bans, in their place of normal residence by acquiring licences in other Member States.
The use of RESPER helps Member States to ensure that a person does not hold more than one licence. This is necessary in order to ensure that drivers only drive vehicles in categories for which they are qualified and authorised. This contributes to achieving one of the key objectives of the directive, namely, to improve road safety.
On the key decisions in the November 2015 infringements package, see MEMO/15/6006.
On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12.