Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

October infringements package: main decisions

European Commission - MEMO/12/794   24/10/2012

Other available languages: FR DE DA ES NL IT PT ET LT PL SK SL BG RO

European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 24 October 2012

October infringements package: main decisions

DIGITAL AGENDA

EMPLOYEMENT

ENERGY

ENVIRONMENT

JUSTICE

TRANSPORT

HEALTH& CONSUMER POLICY

TAXATION& CUSTOMS

BE

X

X

X X

BG

X

DK

X

X X

EE

X

ES

X

FR

X

IT

X

X

X

LT

X

LU

X

X

NL

X

PL

X

X

X X

X

X

PT

X

RO

X

SI

X

X

X

X

SK

X

UK

X X X

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 162 decisions, including 25 reasoned opinions and 10 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.

    1. Referrals to the Court of Justice with financial penalties

  • Digital Agenda: Commission asks Court of Justice to fine Belgium over non-transparent "must-carry" TV and radio rules

The European Commission is asking the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to impose a fine on Belgium because it has not correctly implemented EU telecom rules when awarding "must-carry" status to broadcast content, even after the Court's judgement of March 2011. "Must-carry" rules require cable companies or telecom operators to carry specified radio and TV broadcast channels and services where a significant number of consumers use them as their principal means to receive radio or TV broadcasts. The Commission is suggesting a lump sum calculated on the basis of € 5 397/day for the period between the first and eventual second Court ruling and a daily penalty payment of € 31 251,20 for each day after the second Court ruling until Belgium complies with the judgment.

(for more information: IP/12/1144 – R. Heath– Tel. +32 229 61716 - Mobile +32 460 75 0221)

  • Environment: Commission refers Italy back to Court over illegal landfills, asks for fines

The European Commission is urging Italy to clean up hundreds of illegal landfills and uncontrolled waste tips. Despite an earlier Court judgement on this matter in April 2007, problems still persist in almost all Italian regions and the measures in place are not sufficient to resolve the problem in the long term. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore referring Italy back to the European Court of Justice and requesting a lump sum fine of € 28 089,60 and a daily penalty payment of € 256 819,20 for each day after the second Court ruling until the infringement ends.

(for more information: IP/12/1140 - J. Hennon - Tel. +32 229 53593 - Mobile +32 498 95 3593)

  • Internal energy market: Commission refers Poland and Slovenia to Court for failing to fully transpose EU rules

The European Commission is referring Poland and Slovenia to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully transpose the EU internal energy market rules. To date Poland has transposed the Electricity Directive only partially. Slovenia has not fully transposed neither of the Electricity and Gas Directives. These directives had to be transposed by the Member States by 3 March 2011.

For Poland, the Commission requests the Court to impose a daily penalty payment of € 84 378,24. For Slovenia, for each non-transposed Directive, the Commission proposes a daily penalty of € 10 287,36.

(for more information: IP/12/1139 – M. Holzner - Tel. +32 229 60196 - Mobile +32 498 98 2280)

  • Air transport: Commission refers Poland to the Court of Justice on airport charges

The European Commission has decided to refer Poland to the European Court of Justice for failure to implement common rules on airport charges. The deadline for implementation was 15 March 2011. In accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, the Commission will ask the Court to impose a daily penalty payment of € 75 002,88 on Poland until the adoption of national measures.

(for more information: IP/12/1143 – H. Kearns - Tel. +32 229 87638 - Mobile +32 498 98 7638)

    2. Other referrals to the Court of Justice

  • Collective redundancies: Commission refers Italy to Court of Justice for exclusion of managers from information and consultation rules

The European Commission has referred Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU for not taking measures to properly implement EU law on collective redundancies.

Italian legislation, and the relevant Italian case law, currently excludes managers ('dirigenti') from the procedural guarantees related to information and consultation of workers' representatives at the workplace. The exclusion of 'dirigenti' constitutes not only unjustified discrimination against 'dirigenti' themselves but may also, in certain cases, lead to an unjustified weakening of the protection of other categories of workers at the workplace. In particular, it may make it more difficult to reach the redundancies threshold required by law for triggering the information and consultation procedure.

(for more information: IP/12/1145 – J. Todd - Tel. +32 229 94107 - Mobile +32 498 99 4107)

  • Rail transport: Commission refers Poland to the Court of Justice over railway interoperability

The European Commission has decided to refer Poland to the European Court of Justice for failure to notify national measures transposing Directive 2011/18/EU on railway interoperability. The deadline for implementation was 31 December 2011.

(for more information: IP/12/1136 – H. Kearns - Tel. +32 229 87638 - Mobile +32 498 98 7638)

  • Taxation: Commission refers the UK to the European Court of Justice over taxation of capital gains

Today, the European Commission decided to refer the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for its tax regime concerning the attribution of gains to members of non-resident companies. Under UK legislation, a parent company in the United Kingdom is taxed for the capital gains of its subsidiaries in other Member States, while no similar taxation exists when subsidiaries are located in the United Kingdom.

(for more information: IP/12/1146 - E. Traynor - Tel. +32 229 21548 - Mobile +32 498 98 3871)

  • Taxation: Commission refers the UK to the European Court of Justice over the taxation of assets abroad

Today, the European Commission decided to refer the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for its regime concerning the taxation of transfers of assets abroad. UK legislation provides for a difference in treatment between domestic and cross-border transactions.

(for more information: IP/12/1147 - E. Traynor - Tel. +32 229 21548 - Mobile +32 498 98 3871)

    3. Reasoned opinions

  • Pesticides: Commission requests seven Member States to comply with rules on sustainable use of pesticides

A formal request by the European Commission was today sent to Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland and Slovenia urging them to ensure full compliance with the Framework Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides. This Directive sets rules for the sustainable use of pesticides to reduce the risks and impact of pesticide use on people's health and the environment. These seven Member States still have not fully turned this directive into national law, although they were required to do so by 26 November 2011. The Directive has been partially implemented by Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia but shortcomings ranging from certification systems for professional users to requirements on the protection of the aquatic environment still exist. Bulgaria and Luxembourg have not notified any measures. Member States concerned have 2 months to inform the Commission of measures taken to ensure full compliance with EU law. Failure to notify adequate measures could lead to the Commission referring the cases to the European Court of Justice.

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

  • Taxation: VAT on electronic books in France and LUXEMBOURG

The European Commission is asking France and Luxembourg to amend their VAT rates on electronic books (e-books).

Since 1 January 2012, France and Luxembourg have applied a reduced rate of VAT to e-books, which is incompatible with the current rules under the VAT Directive. Under the Directive, e-books constitute electronically supplied services, and application of a reduced rate to this type of services is excluded.

This situation is creating a serious distortion of competition to the disadvantage of operators in the 25 other Member States of the Union, as e-books can be easily purchased in a Member State other than that in which the consumer is resident, and current rules provide for application of the VAT rate in the Member State of the provider rather than that of the customer. The Commission has received complaints from a number of Ministers of Finance highlighting the negative effect on book sales in their domestic markets.

The Commission is aware of the different treatment being applied to e-books and printed books and notes the importance of e-books. Under the new VAT strategy, the Commission has opened this debate with the Member States and should put forward proposals before the end of 2013 (see IP/11/1508).

In the meantime the Commission, as guardian of the treaties, requires Member States to respect the VAT rules they themselves unanimously approved.

The Commission has therefore issued reasoned opinions to the two Member States. This is the second stage in the infringement procedure following the letters of formal notice sent in July 2012 (). The two Member States have one month in which to bring their legislation into compliance with EU law. Otherwise, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. (References: IN/2012/2098 and IN/2012/4080).

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

  • Taxation: Commission requests Poland and Portugal to notify transposition of EU rules on the recovery of claims

Member States had to transpose EU rules concerning mutual assistance for the recovery of claims relating to taxes, duties and other measures by 1st January 2012. Contrary to their obligations, Poland and Portugal did not notify the legal instruments transposing the Directive to the Commission. This Directive is an essential instrument to ensure that Member States can collect taxes they are due by taxpayers established in other Member States. The European Commission has requested Poland and Portugal to notify these implementation measures. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer Poland and Portugal to the EU's Court of Justice. (References: IN/2012/0106 and IN/2012/0116).

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

  • Taxation: Commission requests that BelgiuM cease discriminating against certain income from foreign shares

The Commission has formally asked Belgium to amend provisions of its tax legislation relating to dividend taxation which are judged to be discriminatory. In Belgium, dividends on quoted shares are subject to a reduced rate of withholding tax. However, where the shares concerned are quoted on a foreign stock market, only dividends related to securities issued after 1 January 1994 benefit from the reduced rate. This restriction does not apply to dividends on shares quoted in Belgium.

In addition, the first tranche of dividends or interest paid by cooperative societies or those pursuing a social objective which are authorised in Belgium are exempt from capital gains tax. On the other hand, there is no exemption on the first tranche of dividends or interest paid by an equivalent foreign society (cooperative or pursuing a social objective).

These discriminations impose a heavier tax burden on investors established in Belgium wishing to invest their capital in other Member States. They are contrary to the free movement of capital established by the treaties.

The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (which constitutes the second stage in the infringement procedure). If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the Kingdom of Belgium to the Court of Justice of the European Union. (Reference: IN/2008/4802).

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

  • The European Commission requests Belgium to review Wallonia's inheritance taxation of non-residents

The Commission has requested Belgium to amend the law on inheritance taxation applicable in the Walloon region. This law on inheritance taxation provides for a higher inheritance tax applicable to real estate left by non-residents than for similar inheritance left by residents. Thus, the legislation provides for a difference in tax treatment. This restricts the free movement of capital and is contrary to EU rules (Article 63 TFEU and Article 40 EEA Agreement).

The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (the second step of the infringement procedure). If there is no satisfactory reaction to the reasoned opinion within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union. (Reference: IN/2008/4777).

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

  • Public health: Denmark requested to ban the sale of snus

Snus is oral tobacco sold both loose and in small sachet portions. It is consumed by placing between the gum and the lip, without being chewed or smoked. The sale of snus is banned everywhere in the EU, except in Sweden which had obtained an exemption during Accession Treaty negotiations. Denmark banned the sale of Snus in small sachet portions but not in loose form. Therefore, the European Commission requests that Denmark amends its national legislation to ban all forms of snus. The Danish authorities have two months from the sending of this request to take necessary action to comply with EU law and to inform the Commission of the adopted measures. If they fail to do so within the deadline, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

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

  • Commission requests Denmark to implement rules on protection for temporary workers

The European Commission has requested Denmark to implement EU legislation that guarantees a minimum level of protection to temporary agency workers (Directive 2008/104/EC) into its national law. The Directive ensures equal treatment for temporary agency workers with the permanent staff of the relevant company as regards basic working and employment conditions. It also supports the positive role played by temporary agency work in providing flexibility in the labour market. The deadline for Member States to implement the Directive was 5 December 2011. ; However,; Denmark has still not done so. As a result temporary agency workers in Denmark may be denied the guaranteed working conditions to which they are entitled under the Directive. The request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures. Denmark now has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to implement the Directive. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Denmark to the EU's Court of Justice.

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

  • Labour law: Commission asks Estonia to apply the fixed-term employment Directive fully in academia and the arts

The European Commission has asked Estonia to provide fixed-term staff in universities and in the cultural sector with protection against successive fixed-term employment contracts as required by Directive 1999/70/EC.

This Directive, and in particular the framework agreement by the social partners at European level annexed to it, aims to improve the quality of fixed-term work by ensuring the application of the principle of non-discrimination between permanent and fixed-term workers and by establishing a framework to prevent abuse arising from the use of successive fixed-term employment contracts or relationships. The Directive must be implemented in all sectors of the economy. The Commission's request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures. Estonia now has two months to notify the Commission of measures to ensure full compliance with its obligations. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Estonia to the EU's Court of Justice.

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

  • Taxation: Commission requests Spain to levy VAT on certain notary services

The European Commission has requested Spain to levy VAT on services supplied by notaries in connection with financial transactions. Currently Spain applies an exemption to those services which is not allowed by EU VAT rules.

The VAT Directive provides for an exemption of financial services. For example, the granting of a credit or the sale of shares are transactions exempt from VAT. By contrast, the intervention of a notary consists essentially of preparing public documents which reflect civil and commercial acts and contracts, guaranteeing the authenticity and correctness of those documents. Even if these services are supplied in connection with a financial transaction, they are clearly distinct from that transaction and therefore not financial in nature.

Consequently, Spain is requested to change its legislation within two months to bring it in line with EU law (the second stage of an infringement procedure). Failing this, the European Commission may refer the matter before the EU's Court of Justice. (Reference: IN/2011/4031).

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

  • Taxation: Commission requests Italy to cease discrimination against cheaper tobacco products

The European Commission requests Italy to apply excise duty to tobacco products without discrimination. This means that Italy cannot impose a minimum excise duty on cheaper cigarettes and fine cut tobacco, which is higher than the tax imposed on more expensive products competing on the market.

Under Italian legislation, excise duties for tobacco products are based on a combination of a specific tax and a proportional tax. Where the application of those two elements does not yield enough tax, EU law allows Italy to set and collect a fixed amount of euros (the so-called minimum excise duty). This higher minimum is only applied to the less expensive cigarettes and fine cut tobacco. As a result more expensive products being taxed at a lower level than such minimum are less taxed than the cheaper alternatives. EU rules on excise duties do not allow taxing certain categories of products less than others. Such a national practice runs against the principle of fair competition and distorts the market.

Consequently, Italy is requested to change its legislation within two months to bring it in line with EU law (the second stage of an infringement procedure). Failing this, the European Commission may refer the matter before the EU's Court of Justice. (Reference: IN/2011/4175).

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

  • Environment: Commission asks the Netherlands to act on nature restoration in the Western Scheldt Estuary

The European Commission is again asking the Netherlands to halt the on-going deterioration of the Western Scheldt estuary, a protected ecosystem that is quite unique in north-western Europe and is a part of the Natura 2000 network. The estuary is in a poor state of conservation, notably after repeated deepening of the navigation channel and other human activities have caused a significant reduction in the area of important estuarine habitats. The Netherlands agreed to remedy this in 2005 and to return some 600 hectares of polder land to the river. Subsequent discussions have caused numerous delays and uncertainty about the future course of events. The Commission remains unconvinced that the measures coordinated by the Province of Zeeland and covering another 300 hectares are appropriate to halt the deterioration of the estuary. The Commission hopes that the Netherlands will reach a decision swiftly and implement effective measures to prevent this important ecosystem from suffering irreversible deterioration. The Commission is sending a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings), and giving the Netherlands two months to reply.

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

  • Commission asks Poland to safeguard access to Justice

The European Commission has given Poland two months to comply with European Union rules on the service of documents in civil or commercial matters. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (the second step in the three-step EU infringement process). The Regulation on the service of documents (1393/2007) simplifies the service of documents in cross-border cases. To make cooperation between the judicial authorities of EU countries work properly, the transmission of documents between judicial authorities must be fast and secure.

Currently, Polish legislation imposes an obligation on citizens who are residents of other EU Member States to appoint a representative in Poland for the service of documents in cases involving civil and commercial proceedings in Poland. If none is appointed, the documents are deposited at the court and deemed as having been served to the party of a court proceeding. Without knowing that such documents are deposited at the court, it is difficult to obtain them. This hinders EU citizens from participating in judicial proceedings in Poland. This practice thus represents indirect discrimination on the grounds of nationality, hampering EU citizens' access to justice.

Following the letter of formal notice sent on 27 January 2012, the Commission has today issued a reasoned opinion requesting Poland comply with EU rules..

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

  • Taxation: Commission requests Romania to amend its legislation on excise warehouses

The European Commission has formally requested Romania to amend its legislation concerning the authorization of excise warehouses. Products subject to excise duties are generally produced, and can afterwards be stored under duty suspension, in excise warehouses. This means that products can be sent under duty-suspension from a warehouse in one Member State to a warehouse in another Member State. Authorized excise warehouses include for example refineries, distilleries, registered premises and stores, registered traders, etc. Currently in Romania, only refineries may obtain a license to run a storage excise warehouse for energy products (with the exception of warehouses located in the airport areas). This measure is not in line with EU rules on excise duty and it discriminates against energy products from other Member States. In practice it means that excise products coming from other Member States cannot be held in warehouses and benefit from the duty suspension regime.

Consequently, Romania is requested to change its legislation within two months to bring it in line with EU law (the second stage of an infringement procedure). Failing this, the European Commission may refer the matter before the EU's Court of Justice. (Reference: IN/2010/4229).

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

  • Environment: Commission asks Slovenia to clean up landfills

The European Commission has asked Slovenia to bring its landfills into line with EU legislation. This is part of a horizontal exercise against several Member States. Under EU law, landfilling should only be used as a last resort, and it can only be done under conditions that avoid impacts on human health and the environment. Existing landfills must meet a number of conditions in order to obtain an operating permit. Slovenia had agreed to close or upgrade a number of landfills. While some progress has been made and an adequate waste management system is now in place, 18 landfills are still in breach of the legislation. Ten landfills for municipal waste lack the appropriate permits, and eight more are still operating in defiance of a refusal by the national authorities to issue the necessary permits. The Commission is sending a reasoned opinion (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings), and Slovenia has two months to reply.

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

  • Rail transport: Commission asks Slovenia to transpose EU legislation on rail interoperability

The Commission is asking Slovenia to bring its national rules into line with Directive 2011/18/EU on railway interoperability. The legislation aims to introduce modifications to the description of the rail systems and specifies the procedures of their verification. The legislation should have been in place since 31 December 2011. If Slovenia fails to react satisfactorily, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice. The Commission opened infringement proceedings against Slovenia in January this year, and a reasoned opinion (the second stage of an infringement procedure) is now being sent. Slovenia has two months to reply to the Commission.

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

  • Social security: Commission requests Slovakia to pay disability benefits to insured people residing in another Member State

The European Commission has requested Slovakia to ensure that people insured under the Slovak social security regime but residing in another Member State can obtain benefits for the severely disabled. By refusing to provide these benefits to people who live in other Member States, Slovakia is in breach of its obligations under EU law (and in particular Article 48 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, as implemented by Regulation (EC) 883/2004) and is depriving severely disabled people of benefits to which they are entitled. The Commission considers that the Slovak carer's allowance ('peňažný príspevok na opatrovanie'), disability allowance ('peňažný príspevok na osobnú asistenciu') and cash allowance for compensation of increased costs for severely disabled people ('peňažný príspevok na kompenzáciu zvýšených výdavkov') should be provided to those entitled to it even if they reside outside Slovakia. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If Slovakia does not notify the Commission within two months of measures to ensure compliance with these obligations under EU law, 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)

  • Taxation: Commission requests the UK to review inheritance taxation of spouses

The United Kingdom legislation provides that transfers between domiciled spouses or civil partners are exempt from inheritance tax. However, transfers between domiciled and non-domiciled spouses or civil partners are not exempt from inheritance tax. Furthermore, in the latter case the rules on the nil rate band applicable to subsequent transfers differ and may result globally in a higher taxation. This difference in tax treatment of transfers between domiciled and non-domiciled spouses is of a discriminatory nature and contrary to EU rules (Article 18 TFEU).

The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (the second step of the infringement procedure). If there is no satisfactory reaction within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union. (Reference: IN/2010/2111).

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


Side Bar

My account

Manage your searches and email notifications


Help us improve our website