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European Commission - Fact Sheet

July infringements package: key decisions

Brussels, 16 July 2015

I. Overview by Member State

Country/ Policy

Environment

Health and Food Safety

Home Affairs

Justice and consumers

Mobility and Transport

Taxation and Customs Union

Total

AT




1



1

BE





1

1

2

DE





2


2

EL



1




1

ES

1


1




2

FR





1


1

IE






1

1

IT



1




1

LT


1





1

LU





1


1

MT



1




1

NL





1


1

PT



1




1

RO



1




1

Total

1

1

6

1

6

2

17

 

II. Overview by policy area



In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission is pursuing legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law. These decisions covering many sectors and policy areas aim to ensure proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.

The Commission has today taken 85 decisions[1] of which the key ones are presented below and grouped by policy area (including 15 reasoned opinions and 2 referrals to the EU Court of Justice). The Commission is also closing 59 cases where the issues with the Member States concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further.

For more information on the infringements procedure, see MEMO/12/12. For more detail on all decisions taken today please consult the infringement decisions register.

 

1. Environment

(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172)

 

Referral to the European Court of Justice

Commission refers SPAIN to Court over illegal landfills

The European Commission is taking Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) over poor waste management in the regions of Andalusia, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Castile-La Mancha, Castile and León and Murcia. Despite earlier warnings from the Commission, Spain has failed to take measures to close, seal and ecologically restore 61 illegal landfills, as laid down by EU waste legislation.

Under EU law, Member States must recover and dispose of waste in a manner that does not endanger human health and the environment, prohibiting the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled disposal of waste.

Having identified a number of illegal landfill sites, the Commission opened infringement proceedings on the matter in March 2007, with a reasoned opinion following in October 2008. The Spanish authorities promised to close and restore the illegal landfills as part of their action plans before the end of 2011. Due to slow progress, in September 2014 the Commission sent an additional reasoned opinion, urging Spain to adequately deal with the 63 uncontrolled sites, which – although not in operation – still posed a threat to human health and the environment. By mid-2015 most of the necessary work for the closure, sealing and regeneration of 61 uncontrolled landfill sites has not yet been planned, approved or initiated. In an effort to urge Spain to speed up the process, the Commission is taking Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union. For more information see full press release.

 

2. Health and Food Safety

(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172)

 

Reasoned opinion

Commission requests LITHUANIA to transpose provisions of EU directives on quality and safety standards for medical procedures involving reproductive cells

The European Commission has requested Lithuania to transpose into its national law the provisions on quality and safety applicable to reproductive cells under EU law setting quality and safety standards for human tissues and cells[2]. The Lithuanian law transposing the Directives does not apply to medical procedures involving reproductive cells, although such procedures may be carried out in the country between spouses. This represents a public health concern, as medical procedures involving reproductive cells, such as in-vitro fertilisation, carried out in Lithuania, are, as a consequence, not compliant with the safety and quality standards required by EU law.

EU law regulates only the quality and safety requirements of human tissues and cells. It does not regulate the possible uses of tissues and cells, which is a matter for national authorities to regulate - national legislation can prohibit or restrict the use of particular tissues and cells. However, as long as a Member State allows use of certain tissues or cells – as Lithuania does for assisted procedures between spouses - its national law must comply with the quality and safety standards laid down in EU law.

Lithuania has now two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy this situation. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Lithuania to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

 

3. Home Affairs

(For more information: Natasha Bertaud – tel.: +32 229 67456)

 

Reasoned opinion

Commission requests GREECE, ITALY, MALTA, PORTUGAL, ROMANIA and SPAIN to communicate all the national measures taken to ensure full implementation of the Directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography

The European Commission is concerned that Greece, Spain, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Romania have not communicated all the national measures taken to ensure full implementation of Directive 2011/93/EU on combatting the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. The Directive harmonises criminal offences relating to sexual abuse committed against children, the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography throughout the European Union. It lays down a minimum level for criminal sanctions, and also includes provisions aimed at combating on-line child sex abuse and child sex tourism. Furthermore, it aims to prevent offenders convicted of child sex crimes from exercising professional activities involving regular contact with children.

The measures of this Directive had to be implemented by 18 December 2013. Despite letters of formal notice (the first step of an infringement procedure) sent in January 2014 to Greece, Spain, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Romania, these six countries have either not yet notified the Commission of all the national measures undertaken to ensure full implementation of this Directive, or have not yet adopted legislation to comply with all of its provisions. That is why the Commission decided today to address 'reasoned opinions' to these countries. The six countries have two months to notify the Commission of all measures taken to ensure full implementation, including to bring national legislation in line with EU law. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer them to Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

 

4. Justice and Consumers

(For more information: Christian Wigand – tel.: +32 229 62253)

 

Reasoned opinion

Commission requests AUSTRIA to comply with EU rules on unfair commercial practices

The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive has created a single set of rules for commercial practices in the EU Single Market. This means that consumers can rely on a high level of protection in all EU Member States while traders benefit from the same standards being applied everywhere. In addition to an exhaustive black list of practices which are prohibited in general, the Directive prohibits practices which, based on a case-by-case assessment, are found to be misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair.

The European Commission has requested Austria to make its law conform to EU rules on Unfair Commercial Practices. Currently, Austria bans the sale of certain products when traders visit a consumer's home or workplace and for marketing events outside the trader's retail premises, without assessing whether such traders engage in misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair practices. The ban concerns, for instance, food supplements or sales benefiting charities and was recently lifted with regard to cosmetics.

Today's reasoned opinion forms part of a general transposition monitoring exercise on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. In case Austria does not respond within the deadline or provides an unsatisfactory response the Commission might decide to refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

 

5. Mobility and Transport

(For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – tel.: +32 229 50595)

 

Reasoned opinions

Commission requests GERMANY to comply with EU rules on pilot licencing

The European Commission has requested Germany to fulfil its obligations for issuing pilot licences. Member States have the obligation to issue pilot licences to applicants who comply with the rules described in the Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 without any additional administrative or technical requirements. Germany, under its national law, is demanding that applicants for pilot licences provide a security background check with no negative remarks before issuing the licence. The Commission has established that by imposing a requirement in addition to those set in the Regulation, Germany has failed to fulfil its obligations under EU law. The request has been sent in the form of a reasoned opinion under the EU infringement procedures. Germany has two months to notify the Commission of the measures taken to apply the Regulation correctly; otherwise the Commission may decide to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

 

Commission requests BELGIUM, FRANCE, GERMANY, LUXEMBOURG and the NETHERLANDS to complete the implementation of their common airspace

The Commission has requested that Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands complete the implementation of their Functional Airspace Block (FAB). FABs are large portions of airspace arranged around traffic flows rather than state boundaries, in which air navigation services (ANS) are optimised. This allows aircraft to fly without delays on the shortest routes and best flight levels, therefore reducing fuel burn, and reducing costs.

All EU Member States should have implemented their FABs by 4 December 2012 according to Regulation (EC) No 550/2004. The FAB between Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland (FABEC) has been formally established through an international agreement which came into force on 1 June 2013. However, the objectives pursued by the legislation - to optimise the use of both that airspace and the air navigation services - have not been reached yet because the FABEC implementation has so far been too slow.  

Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands now have two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy this situation. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer these countries to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

The lack of progress on FABs is holding back the implementation of the EU's Single European Sky, resulting in 30% to 40% extra costs for air navigation charges being levied. This represents a loss of some 5 billion euros annually. Additionally, planned safety enhancements in the Single European Sky are negatively impacted. Slow progress on the FABEC alone affects 55 % of European air traffic.

Today each flight over Europe has to add an average of 42 kilometres due to the fragmentation of airspace along national boundaries. Currently there are 10 million flights per year in the EU and the existing air traffic management is approaching its capacity limits. By 2035, this number will increase to 17 million flights. For more information about FABs and Single European Sky click here.

 

6. Taxation and Customs Union

(For more information: Vanessa Mock – tel.: +32 229 56194

 

Referral to the European Court of Justice

Commission refers IRELAND to the Court of Justice for failing to amend its car tax legislation

The European Commission is referring Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) because the car tax applied to rented and leased vehicles is not in line with EU rules.

More specifically, Ireland is currently infringing EU law in the way it applies tax to vehicles that are either rented or leased. Under EU rules, car tax should be levied on Irish residents according to the precise duration that the vehicle is leased in another Member State, provided that the duration can be determined (e.g. on the basis of a leasing or rental contract). 

Ireland is infringing EU law by levying the full amount of car tax, even though the amount levied in excess is refunded at a later stage, once the vehicle is registered in another country. 

The Irish legislation creates a disproportionate obstacle to the freedom to provide services for leasing and rental companies in other Member States that wish to offer their services to Irish residents. For more information see full press release.

 

Reasoned opinion

Commission invites BELGIUM to place its rules concerning tax benefits linked to personal or family situation in conformity with European law

The Belgian tax system grants tax benefits linked to the personal or family situation of the taxpayer solely for income received in Belgium. Where the taxpayer receives income originating in Belgium and income originating in another State, Belgium applies a rate corresponding to the percentage of the taxpayer's total income that is accounted for by domestic income. An additional tax reduction is granted if the taxpayer's personal or family situation has not been taken into account by the tax authorities of other countries. However, no such additional reduction is granted if the State in which the income originates offers the taxpayer the option of receiving these benefits in that State, even if the taxpayer has not exercised this option.

The Commission considers that the Belgian rules may constitute an obstacle to the free movement of persons and capital guaranteed by Articles 45, 49 and 63 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Articles 28, 31 and 40 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement). Under EU law, a Belgian taxpayer receiving both income originating in Belgium and income originating in other European States is in the same position as a taxpayer receiving income originating solely in Belgium. However, the Belgian rules referred to above limit the amount of tax benefits available insofar as the income originates outside Belgium.

The request is addressed to Belgium in the form of a reasoned opinion, as provided for by the infringement procedure. The Belgian authorities have two months in which to notify the Commission of the measures they intend to take to comply with European law. In the absence of such notification, the Commission may decide to refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the European Union.


[1] Court referrals: 2

Reasoned opinions: 15

Letters of Formal Notice: 8

Closures: 59
Withdrawal from the EU Court of Justice: 1

[2] Directives 2004/23/EC, 2006/17/EC and 2006/86/EC.


 

MEMO/15/5356

General public inquiries:


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