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MEMO

Brussels, 27 September 2012

September infringements package: main decisions

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In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission is pursuing legal action against Member States for failing to comply properly with their obligations under EU law. These decisions covering many sectors aim at ensuring proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses. The Commission has taken today 361 decisions, including 27 reasoned opinions and 12 referrals to the European Union's Court of Justice. Below is a summary of the main decisions.

For more information on infringements procedure, see MEMO/12/12.

  • Referrals to the Court of Justice

  • Cross-border legal disputes: Commission takes Cyprus and the Netherlands to Court for failing to transpose EU rules

The European Commission is referring Cyprus and the Netherlands to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to notify national measures to implement EU rules easing access to justice in cross-border legal disputes. The Mediation Directive applies when two parties involved in a cross-border dispute voluntarily agree to settle their dispute using an impartial mediator. The deadline for transposing the Directive into national law was 21 May 2011.

The Commission proposes a daily fine of € 6.758,40 for Cyprus, and € 70.553,60 for The Netherlands which would be paid as from the date of the Court's affirmative ruling until the Member States concerned notify the Commission that they have fully implemented the rules into national law.

(for more information: IP/12/1016 - M. Andreeva - Tel. +32 229 91382- Mobile +32 498 99 1382)

  • Public procurement: Commission asks Court of Justice to fine Poland, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Slovenia for not implementing defence procurement rules

The European Commission has decided to refer Poland, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Slovenia to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully implement the Directive on procurement of arms, munitions and war material (and related works and services) for defence purposes, as well as the procurement of sensitive supplies, works and services for security purposes. Directive 2009/81/EC was adopted in August 2009 and had to be implemented in all EU Member States by 20 August 2011. The Commission has also decided to ask the Court to impose daily fines on the four Member States until they implement the Directive.

The Commission proposes a daily penalty payment of € 70 561.92 for Poland,
€ 57 324.80 for The Netherlands, € 8 320 for Luxembourg and € 7 038.72 for Slovenia which would be paid as from the date of the Court's affirmative ruling until the Member States concerned notify the Commission that they have fully implemented the rules into national law.

(for more information: IP/12/1020 – S. De Rynck - Tel. +32 229 63421 - Mobile +32 498 98 3969)

  • Environment: Commission takes Greece to Court over waste landfill and endangered turtles

The European Commission is taking Greece to Court over a landfill site in a protected area on the island of Zakynthos. The landfill is operating in breach of EU waste legislation and constitutes a serious threat to human health, the environment, and in particular, to nesting turtles. Greece needs to either close the landfill, or bring it into line with EU waste legislation. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is taking Greece to the EU Court of Justice.

(for more information: IP/12/1023 - J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Environment: Commission takes Sweden to Court over failure to comply with e-waste legislation

The European Commission is taking Sweden to the EU Court of Justice for failing to properly transpose EU legislation on electronic waste. The Commission has concerns about shortcomings in the Swedish transposition of the Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) into national legislation. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore referring the case to the EU Court of Justice.

(for more information: IP/12/1024 - J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Free movement: Commission takes Belgium to Court

The European Commission decided today to refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the European Union for hindering the right to free movement of children born in Belgium who have one Belgian parent and one parent of another EU Member State nationality. For the moment, Belgian municipalities refuse to register these children under a surname other than their father's name – even if the child has already been registered under a double name in the consulate of another EU Member State.

(for more information: IP/12/1021 - M. Andreeva - Tel. +32 229 91382- Mobile +32 498 99 1382)

  • Taxation: Commission refers UK to the European Court of Justice over cross-border loss relief

Today, the European Commission has decided to refer the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for its tax legislation on cross-border loss relief. The Commission considers that the UK has failed to properly implement the ECJ's previous "Marks & Spencer" ruling (Case C-446/03) on this matter.

(for more information: IP/12/1017 - E. Traynor - Tel. +32 229 21548 - Mobile +32 498 98 3871)

  • Taxation: Commission refers Germany to the Court of Justice for discriminatory inheritance tax provisions

The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the EU's Court of Justice because of its legislation on inheritance and gift tax allowances. Under German law, there is a higher tax exemption for inherited German property if the testator or the heir are living in Germany, than if they are both living abroad. As a result, non-residents are taxed much higher on inherited assets located in Germany than German residents are. Such a provision could dissuade citizens living abroad from investing in property located in Germany. The Commission is of the opinion that this provision is discriminatory and constitutes an unjustified restriction on the free movement of capital, as provided for in the Treaties

(for more information: IP/12/1018 - E. Traynor - Tel. +32 229 21548 - Mobile +32 498 98 3871)

  • Taxation: Commission refers Germany to Court over discriminatory tax rules on hidden reserves

The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the EU's Court of Justice over its discriminatory tax rules on the reinvestment of hidden reserves. Under German legislation, hidden reserves can only be transferred tax-free into a reinvestment if the newly purchased assets belong to a permanent establishment in Germany. In practice, this means that a taxpayer wishing to sell certain fixed assets in order to establish himself in another EU Member State, or to expand his business activities abroad, will clearly be at a disadvantage. This unequal treatment can discourage cross-border investments, and its discriminatory nature is contrary to EU rules.

(for more information: IP/12/1019 - E. Traynor - Tel. +32 229 21548 - Mobile +32 498 98 3871)

  • Reasoned opinions

  • Ports: Reasoned opinion addressed to Spain for non-compliance with the EU Treaty of the regime organising the recruitment of port workers (dockers)

The Commission has sent today a reasoned opinion to Spain for obliging cargo-handling companies in several Spanish ports to financially participate in the capital of private companies managing the provision of dockers and not to allow them to resort to the market to employ their staff, unless the workforce proposed by this private company is not suitable or not sufficient. Cargo-handling providers from other Member States wishing to establish themselves in Spain might be discouraged from doing so because of the barrier this provision raises on the market for cargo-handling services. This is the second stage in the infringement procedure. If Spain fails to react satisfactorily, the Commission may refer the matter to the EU Court of Justice.

(for more information: IP/12/1022 - H. Kearns - Tel. +32 229 87638 - Mobile +32 498 98 7638)

  • Health and Safety: Commission requests Spain to apply Directive in full to Civil Guard

The European Commission has requested Spain to take measures to fully apply the EU Directive that establishes basic rules on protecting workers' health and safety to members of the Civil Guard ('Guardia Civil'). The Directive (89/391/EEC) requires Member States to put in place legislation obliging employers and workers to take measures to limit accidents at work and occupational diseases. This Directive also obliges Member States to improve the training, information and consultation of workers as regards health and safety measures. The problem in Spain is that for certain of the Civil Guard's workplaces no one has been appointed to verify that health and safety prevention measures are put in place. As a result, the health and safety at work of members of the Civil Guard could be at risk. If Spain does not notify measures to ensure full compliance with its obligations under the Directive within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the EU's Court of Justice.

(for more information: J. Todd - Tel. +32 229 94107 - Mobile +32 498 99 4107)

  • Health and Safety: Commission requests Austria to fully apply Directives to education sector

The European Commission has requested Austria to fully apply to the education sector two health and safety Directives (the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC and the Workplace Directive 89/654/EEC). The Directives require Member States to put in place mesures to to eliminate and reduce the risk factors for occupational diseases and accidents. However Austria excluded the education sector to a large extent from its national legislation implementing these Directives. As a result, the health and safety of teachers and lecturers may be less well protected, for example as regards emergency exits or stability and solidity of buildings. The request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures. Austria now has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to fully implement the Directives. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer this Member State to the EU's Court of Justice.

(for more information: J. Todd - Tel. +32 229 94107 - Mobile +32 498 99 4107)

  • Renewables: Legislation in Austria and Bulgaria not in line with EU rules

Increasing the share of renewables to 20% by 2020 in the EU overall energy consumption is an important precondition for a more sustainable and competitive Europe. Reaching this binding target relies on the commitment of each Member State to fully implement the relevant EU legislation. The Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) had to be implemented by Member States by 5 December 2010. Timely transposition of this Directive is a priority for the Commission, as delays may prevent the EU from achieving its renewable energy objective. However, Austria and Bulgaria have not informed the Commission of all the necessary transposition measures for fully transposing the Directive into their national legislation. Therefore, the Commission has today decided to send Reasoned Opinions to these Member States. If the Member States do not comply with their legal obligation within two months, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice. These two Reasoned Opinions complement 9 similar procedures involving Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Poland and Slovenia.

More information: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/infringements/index_en.htm

(for more information: M. Holzner - Tel. +32 229 60196 - Mobile +32 498 98 2280)

  • Free movement of goods: Commission warns France over barriers to trade in construction products

The European Commission has decided to send France a reasoned opinion for failing to respect EU rules governing the harmonisation of the marketing of construction products. As a consequence of France's actions manufacturers from other Member States have great difficulty selling certain construction products on the French market. If France does not comply with EU law in this area within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

The Commission has received numerous complaints from manufacturers and importers of construction products who experienced difficulties selling their products on the French market. The cause is a French requirement for additional French-based certification for these products, despite the fact that they already have a CE–mark (the CE marking states that the product is assessed before being placed on the market) and are legally marketed in other Member States.

Under the provisions of the Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC), Member States retained the competence to establish performance requirements for construction products, but only on condition that they did not impede the free movement of CE-marked products. The same rule exists, even more clearly, in the newly adopted Construction Products Regulation (305/2011/EU).

More information on the Construction Products Regulation

For more information on the free movement of goods

MEMO/12/431 - Construction sector should seize excellent opportunities of low energy buildings

(for more information: C. Corazza - Tel. +32 229 51752 - Mobile +32 498 99 2862)

  • Environment: Commission urges Greece to protect the loggerhead turtle

The European Commission has asked Greece to improve the protection for sea turtles in Kyparissia Bay in the Western Peloponnese. Caretta caretta loggerhead sea turtles are a globally endangered species that are strictly protected under the Habitats Directive, and the bay in question is one of their most significant nesting beaches. The Commission opened infringement proceedings on this matter in October 2011, but Greece is still tolerating the existence of a significant number of projects and activities that have not undergone the appropriate assessments in area that is a protected Natura 2000 site. Greece has also failed to adopt the requisite measures to establish and implement an effective system of strict protection for sea turtles in Kyparissia, to avoid any disturbance of the species during its breeding period and any activity which might bring about deterioration or destruction of its breeding sites. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings), and Greece has two months to respond.

(for more information: J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Environment: Commission asks Greece to protect its water resources against nitrates pollution

The European Commission has asked Greece to address shortcomings in its nitrates legislation. Nitrates are widely used as fertilisers, but excess levels cause severe water pollution. Under EU law, Member States have to designate areas that are vulnerable to nitrate pollution and adopt measures to reduce and prevent pollution those areas. These must include closed periods when manure and chemical fertilizers cannot be spread, a capacity for storing manure when it cannot be spread, and limitations on fertilizer application. The Commission considers that Greece needs to extend some of its vulnerable zones and designate some additional areas – although it had committed to designating some additional zones, no concrete steps have so far materialized. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings), and Greece has two months to reply.

(for more information: J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Environment: Commission asks Italy to comply with EU laws on end-of-life vehicles

The Commission is asking Italy to notify the Commission about its transposition of a Directive amending legislation on end-of-life vehicles. The amendment was to be adopted by 31 December 2011. Italy has stated that it is preparing draft legislation, but no update has been received yet - therefore, a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings) is being sent. Italy has two months to reply.

(for more information: J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Environment: Commission asks Latvia to comply with EU legislation on mining waste

The Commission has reminded Latvia of its obligation to correctly transpose the Mining Waste Directive. The Commission opened an infringement on this matter in April this year and although some of the original problems have been resolved, Latvian legislation still lacks an obligation to draw up external emergency plans, which are vital for civil protection. In its current form, Latvian legislation also fails to guarantee that the public is sufficiently informed about decisions on permits, and that comments and opinions are taken into account by the competent authority before decisions on permits are taken. Latvia has acknowledged some of shortcomings and proposed to make amendments in the national legislation, but the amendments have not yet been made. The Commission's letter takes the form of reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings). Latvia has two months to respond.

(for more information: J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Environment: Commission urges Latvia to comply with EU legislation on bird hunting

The Commission is asking Latvia to bring its hunting legislation into line with EU laws. Latvian hunting rules do not comply with the principle of wise use and ecologically balanced control of the species, and nor do they ensure protection while birds are breeding and rearing their young. Latvian hunting legislation is also failing to comply with the strict rules on hunting derogations that are set out in the Birds Directive, as a number of conditions need to be met before derogations can be granted. Latvia acknowledges the shortcomings and has proposed to change the laws in question, but as no changes have been received, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings). Latvia has two months to respond.

(for more information: J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Environment: Commission asks Estonia to comply with EU legislation on batteries

The Commission is asking Estonia to bring its legislation on batteries into line with the EU legislation. Estonian legislation prohibits any batteries and accumulators containing lead from being placed on the market, unless they are for use in motor vehicles, even if they meet the requirements of the Batteries Directive. In addition the scope of the national definition of “producer of battery and accumulator” is too wide. Estonia has proposed to amend its national legislation, but has not done so to date. The Commission is therefore sending a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings), giving Estonia two months to respond.

(for more information: J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Environment: Commission asks Romania to comply with EU laws to reduce petrol vapour emissions during refuelling

Romania is failing to transpose EU legislation on petrol vapour recovery during the refuelling of motor vehicles at service stations. The legislation aims to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere from vehicle re-fuelling activities at service stations, as these compounds contribute to respiratory illnesses and harm the environment. The legislation should have been in place since 1 January 2012. The Commission opened infringement proceedings on the matter in March this year, and a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings) is now being sent. Romania has two months to reply

(for more information: J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Environment: Commission asks Portugal to comply with EU legislation on mining waste

The European Commission is asking Portugal to make good some shortcomings in transposition of a directive on mining waste. Portugal has recognised the shortcomings, which relate to technical provisions and access to information, but as some revisions have not yet been received, a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings) is being sent. Portugal has two months of respond.

(for more information: J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Bilateral agreement on the exemption from visa requirements for diplomatic passport holders between Italy and China: Italy fails to comply with article 4(3) of the Treaty (TEU)

Despite the negotiating directives given to the Commission in 2005 for the negotiation of an EU-China Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, covering among others a possible visa waiver for diplomatic passport holders, Italy negotiated and concluded a bilateral agreement with China exempting holders of diplomatic passports from the visa requirement without having cooperated or even consulted with the Commission. In doing so Italy failed to its duty of loyal cooperation and did not comply with article 4(3) TEU, which requires Member States to facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives. The Commission therefore adopted today a reasoned opinion requesting Italy to take all necessary measures to comply with EU law and avoid completing the ratification process of its bilateral agreement with China. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

(for more information: M. Cercone - Tel. +32 229 80963 - Mobile +32 498 98 2349)

  • Internal Market: Commission acts to enforce freedom of establishment for notaries in Hungary

The European Commission has today sent an additional request to Hungary to respect EU law by withdrawing its nationality requirement for notaries. The Court of Justice of the EU has already ruled that such nationality requirements are contrary to the freedom of establishment under the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (Article 49) because the activities of notaries are not covered by an exception under Article 51 of the TFEU regarding activities linked to public authority (see its judgments of 24.5.2011 concerning Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany and Greece). Hungary has argued that its notaries have judicial powers. However, its notaries do not have the power to rule on disputes. Therefore although the powers of the notaries might in some instances lead to decisions which are equivalent to judicial decisions in Hungary, in the Commission's view such participation in public authority is not sufficient to justify the nationality requirement. The additional request takes the form of a complementary reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. Hungary now has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to respect its obligations under EU law on notaries. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Hungary to the EU's Court of Justice.

More information on freedom of establishment:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/top_layer/living_working/services-establishment/index_en.htm

(for more information: S. De Rynck - Tel. +32 229 63421 - Mobile +32 498 98 3969)

  • Internal Market: Commission acts to enforce freedom of establishment for lawyers in Luxembourg

The European Commission has today requested Luxembourg to fulfil its obligations under EU law to allow lawyers to establish themselves freely in Luxembourg. Its current legislation requires that all lawyers speak French, German and Luxembourgish. The Commission considers that there are less restrictive and more effective means of safeguarding the efficiency of the legal system, the protection of clients and the country's linguistic heritage. For example, the Luxembourg Bar already maintains a publicly available list of lawyers which refers to their specialisations and the languages in which they practice. Today's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. Luxembourg now has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to respect its obligations under EU law on establishment of lawyers. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Luxembourg to the EU's Court of Justice.

More information on freedom of establishment:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/top_layer/living_working/services-establishment/index_en.htm

(for more information: S. De Rynck - Tel. +32 229 63421 - Mobile +32 498 98 3969)

  • Public procurement: Commission requests Poland to comply with EU rules

The European Commission has today requested Poland fulfil its obligations under EU rules on public procurement as regards what constitutes an admissible cause to exclude candidates in public tenders. Under Poland's Public Procurement Act, economic operators who caused damage by failing to perform a contract or by performing a contract improperly shall be excluded from contract award procedures, if this damage was the object of a court decision in the 3 years prior to the launch of the tender procedure. Moreover, Polish law provides for the compulsory exclusion of any contractor whose contract was terminated by the contracting authority for reasons falling under the contractor's responsibility, if the value of the non-executed part of the contract amounted to at least 5% of the contract. In the Commission's view, these provisions go beyond the exhaustive catalogue of acceptable grounds for exclusion for reasons relating to the professional qualities of a contractor, as provided for in Article 45 of Directive 2004/18/EC of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts and public supply contracts. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. Poland now has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to respect its obligations under EU law on public procurement. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Poland to the EU's Court of Justice.

More information on public procurement rules:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/index_en.htm

(for more information: S. De Rynck - Tel. +32 229 63421 - Mobile +32 498 98 3969)

  • Transport: Commission requests Belgium, Germany, Finland and Sweden to adopt national measures on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

The European Commission has today requested Belgium, Germany, Finland and Sweden to make possible the deployment of intelligent transport systems (ITS).. Directive 2010/40/EU establishes a framework to support the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in the field of road transport and for intelligent interfaces with other modes of transport. The Commission adopts specifications to ensure compatibility, interoperability and continuity in the deployment and use of ITS. Belgium, Germany, Finland and Sweden still have not fully transposed this directive into national law, although they were required to do so by 27 February 2012. According to the directive, Member States shall ensure that the specifications adopted by the Commission are applied to ITS applications and services, when these are deployed. The lack of timely transposition of the Directive could undermine the effectiveness and the timely application of these specifications. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If these Member States fail to inform the Commission within two months of the measures they have taken to ensure full compliance with EU law, the Commission could refer the cases to the European Court of Justice

(for more information: H. Kearns - Tel. +32 229 87638 - Mobile +32 498 98 7638)

  • Animal health: Commission urges Sweden to abandon paratuberculosis testing on bovines

The European Commission today sent a formal request (reasoned opinion) to Sweden, asking them to discontinue the practice of testing for paratuberculosis on bovine animals. The harmonised animal health conditions for trade in bovine animals laid down in Directive 64/432/EEC do not foresee any health requirements for paratuberculosis. Furthermore, this mandatory post-arrival testing discourages Swedish farmers from introducing bovine animals from other EU Member States, and since there is no justification from a health point of view has the equivalent effect of quantitative restrictions. Therefore, it cannot be justified under Art.36 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which regulates restrictions and prohibitions on imports.

Paratuberculosis is a contagious infection in the small intestine of bovines, but also sheep and it takes a long time for symptoms, if any, to appear. The lack of fully reliable and practical tests for the detection of infected animals also explains the absence of EU rules on this disease.

If Sweden fails to inform the Commission, within two months of this formal request, that the testing has stopped, the Commission could refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

(for more information: F. Vincent - Tel. +32 229 87166 - Mobile +32 498 98 7166)

  • Taxation: Commission requests Austria to cease discriminatory treatment of foreign non-profit institutions

The Commission has formally requested Austria to amend its discriminatory tax legislation related to the treatment of gifts to non-profit organisations. Austrian law allows gifts to certain non-profit institutions established in Austria to be treated as "special expenses", whereas this benefit is not allowed for gifts to comparable foreign institutions. The result is a higher tax burden on those who make gifts to non-Austrian institutions. This constitutes an unjustified restriction on the free movement of capital, as set out in the Treaties. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (the second stage of an infringement procedure). In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer Austria to the EU's Court of Justice.

(for more information: E. Traynor - Tel. +32 229 21548 - Mobile +32 498 98 3871)

  • VAT: Commission requests Germany amend its rules on VAT refunds for non-EU operators

The European Commission has requested that Germany amend its legislation which requires that VAT refund applications submitted by non-EU operators be personally signed by the applicant. The Commission considers that such a measure goes against the basic EU law principles of effectiveness, proportionality and equivalence. There is no provision under the relevant EU legislation which requires those VAT refund applications to be personally signed. Moreover, requiring a personal signature from non-EU operators can make it excessively difficult for those not established in the EU to obtain a VAT refund. The Commission considers that Germany's objective with this requirement, namely combatting tax evasion and ensuring a proper refund procedure, could be achieved through other means, such as the appointment of a tax representative. The request takes the form of a Reasoned Opinion (the second stage of an infringement procedure). If the legislation is not brought into compliance with EU Law within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the EU's Court of Justice.

(for more information: E. Traynor - Tel. +32 229 21548 - Mobile +32 498 98 3871)

  • Taxation: Commission requests Greece to modify rules on vehicle registration tax

The European Commission has formally requested Greece to change registration tax rules for company vehicles provided to Greek residents by employers not established in Greece.

Under Greek law, if an employer established in another Member State provides an employee resident in Greece with a company vehicle, the rules on temporary importation apply. This means that the Greek resident may use his company vehicle in Greece for six consecutive or non-consecutive months in a year (with a possibility for extension under exceptional circumstances). After six months, registration tax must be paid for that vehicle. Greece has failed to address the issue of cross-border company cars in its legislation, thereby disregarding European Court of Justice case-law on this matter. The result is that an employee who receives a company vehicle registered in his employer's Member State might face additional costs due to the cross-border character of his job. This may act as a deterrent to cross-border activity, going against the principles of free movement of workers and the freedom of establishment set down in the Treaties. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (second step of EU infringement proceedings). If Greece does not comply with the request within two months, the Commission may decide to refer Greece to the EU's Court of Justice.

(for more information: E. Traynor - Tel. +32 229 21548 - Mobile +32 498 98 3871)

  • Taxation: Commission requests Spain to change its discriminatory real estate tax regime

The Commission has requested that Spain amend its tax provisions for certain real estate sales. Under Spanish law, capital gains from the sale of a permanent residence are exempt for tax if the proceeds are used to acquire another permanent residence. However, this provision only applies to Spanish residents, thereby discriminating against non-residents. The provisions are incompatible with fundamental freedoms set out in the Treaties. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (second step of EU infringement proceedings). If Spain does not comply with the request within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the EU's Court of Justice.

(for more information: E. Traynor - Tel. +32 229 21548 - Mobile +32 498 98 3871)


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