Brussels, 28 July 1998
Single market and taxation - infringement proceedings for failure to notify national measures transposing Community legislation
The Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions (second stage of infringement proceedings) to Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, France, Germany and Austria in sixteen cases in which these Member States have failed in their obligation to transpose single-market Directives by the deadlines set. The Directives in question concern the legal protection of databases, the recognition of diplomas and the abolition of border controls (works of art). Should a Member State which has received a reasoned opinion fail to give a satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice. The Commission has also decided to bring a case before the Court of Justice against Greece for its failure to notify measures implementing the reduced VAT rate in the flower-growing sector.
Legal protection of databases
The Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal for non-transposition Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases. The Directive harmonises copyright protection applicable to the structure of on- and off-line databases (in electronic form or on paper). It also introduced a new sui generis right protecting for a period of fifteen years the work of makers and producers of databases, whether or not their databases are intrinsically innovative (see IP/96/171). The Directive is of crucial importance in the context of the information society since most on-line services will be accessed using databases. Member States were supposed to implement the Directive by 1 January 1998.
The Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to France following the French authorities' failure to notify measures transposing, for the profession of psychologist, Directive 89/48/EEC on a general system for the recognition of higher-education diplomas awarded on completion of professional training of at least three years' duration. The Directive is designed to ensure the free movement within the Union of a large number of regulated professions. France, which chose to transpose the Directive by adopting specific legislation for each profession or group of professions falling within its scope, has notified some of this specific legislation to the Commission.
However, no specific legislation on access to the profession of psychologist has been notified, even though this profession is regulated in France by Law No 85-772 of 25 July 1985. Directive 89/48 was to have been transposed by the Member States by 4 January 1991.
Diplomas (medical laboratory scientific officers)
The Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to Greece, Ireland and France regarding their failure to transpose Commission Directive 97/38/EC. This Directive, which should have been implemented by 30 September 1997, amended Directive 92/51/EEC on a general system for the recognition of diplomas. The basic amendment involved the profession of medical laboratory scientific officer (laboratory assistant) in the United Kingdom. The general system for the recognition of diplomas is intended to foster the free movement of persons within the European Union by ensuring that individuals are not obliged to repeat their training if they wish to practice their profession in another Member State. Accordingly, the "recognition of diplomas" Directives are of direct relevance to citizens. The basic principle of the general system for the recognition of diplomas is that a host Member State may not refuse Community nationals access to a regulated profession if they are fully qualified to practice the same profession in their Member State of origin.
Abolition of border controls (works of art)
The Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to Germany, France, Ireland and Austria, all of which have not transposed Directive 96/100/EC. This Directive extends the scope of Directive 93/7/EEC on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State to include water colours, gouaches and pastels. The latter Directive is intended to ensure that Member States can secure the return to their territory of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value which are unlawfully dispatched or exported after the abolition of controls on goods at the internal borders of the Union. Directive 96/100/EC should have been transposed by 1 September 1997 at the latest.
Reduced VAT rate in the flower-growing and horticultural sectors
The Commission has decided to bring an action before the Court of Justice against Greece for its failure to notify measures transposing Directive 96/42/EC, which aims to amend the Sixth VAT Directive in respect of the reduced rate applicable to agricultural outputs of the flower-growing and horticultural sectors.
The Directive in question stipulates that Member States must bring into force the provisions necessary to comply with it and immediately inform the Commission of them. Greece has not provided this information.
Greece has not replied to the reasoned opinion of 3 December 1997 and has failed to notify any legislation adopted to comply with that reasoned opinion.