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European Commission - Fact Sheet

September infringements package: key decisions

Brussels, 24 September 2015

The Commission has taken 115 decisions of which the key ones are presented below and grouped by policy area (including 13 reasoned opinions and 3 referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union).

I. Overview by Member State

EU Policy/
Country

Climate Action

Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Energy

Environment

Migration and Home Affairs*

Mobility and Transport

Taxation and Customs Union

Total

AT

1

   

1

  

2

BE

    

2

  

2

BG

    

3

  

3

CY

    

2

1

 

3

CZ

    

2

  

2

DE

    

2

1

1

4

DK

     

1

 

1

EE

  

1

 

2

  

3

EL

    

3

 

1

4

ES

   

1

3

  

4

FR

 

1

  

2

 

1

4

HU

    

2

  

2

IE

    

1

  

1

LT

    

2

1

 

3

LU

    

2

  

2

LV

    

2

  

2

MT

   

1

2

  

3

PL

    

2

  

2

RO

   

1

2

1

 

4

SE

    

2

  

2

SI

    

2

  

2

SL

  

1

    

1

Total

1

1

2

3

41

5

3

56

 

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 key decisions taken by the Commission (including 13 reasoned opinions and 3 referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union) are presented below and grouped by policy area. The Commission is also closing 68 cases where the issues with the Member States concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further.

In addition, on 23 September 2015, the European Commission adopted 40 infringements decisions against several Member States for failing to fully implement legislation making up the Common European Asylum System. For more information, please refer to the full press release*.

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. Climate Action

(For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - tel.: +32 229 56186, Nicole Bockstaller – tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

Additional reasoned opinion

Climate change: Commission sends an additional reasoned opinion to AUSTRIA for failing to fully transpose the EU CCS Directive

The European Commission has decided to send an additional reasoned opinion to Austria for incompletely transposing into its national law the European rules relating to the capture and geological storage of carbon dioxide (CCS).

The CCS Directive (Directive 2009/31/EC) includes an obligation for Member States to have brought into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive by 25 June 2011. Member States have the right to ban CO2 storage on their territory, and Austria has chosen to make use of this option. However, it has not transposed all the non-storage related provisions of the Directive (for example, ensuring safe transportation of captured CO2). The Commission considers it essential that all Member States transpose these provisions to ensure the safety of the whole CCS process across the EU. The Commission sent a reasoned opinion to the Austrian authorities on 20 November 2013 asking them to align their legislation with the Directive. As one Article was missing in the initial list of provisions that Austria was requested to transpose, the Commission is sending an additional reasoned opinion.

Carbon capture and geological storage is a technique for trapping carbon dioxide emitted from large point sources such as power plants, compressing it, and transporting it to a suitable storage site where it is injected into the ground. Therefore it contributes to climate change mitigation. The main purpose of Directive 2009/31/EC (also referred to as the "CCS Directive") is to ensure that this process is carried out in a safe and environmentally sound manner. More information on carbon capture and geological storage: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/lowcarbon/ccs/index_en.htm.

 

2. Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

(For more information: Christian Wigand – tel.: +32 229 62253, Tove Ernst – tel.: +32 229 86764)

 

Reasoned opinion

Social Security: Commission requests FRANCE to give access to the local sickness insurance scheme of Alsace-Moselle to the entitled pensioners residing in another Member State

The European Commission has requested that France ensures that pensioners who previously worked and contributed to the social security system in the Alsace-Moselle region of France can get affiliated with the local health insurance system, regardless of whether they reside in another Member State. By refusing access to this scheme to pensioners who live in other Member States, France is in breach of its obligations under EU law, in particular Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, as implemented by Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the Coordination of social security systems. The request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion" under the EU infringement procedure. France now has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to fully implement the EU Treaties; otherwise the Commission may decide to refer France to the Court of Justice of the EU.

 

3. Energy

(For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - tel.: +32 229 56186, Nicole Bockstaller – tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

Reasoned opinion

Energy efficiency: Commission requests ESTONIA and SLOVENIA to fully transpose the EU Energy Efficiency Directive

The European Commission has requested that Slovenia and Estonia ensure the full transposition of the Energy Efficiency Directive (Directive 2012/27/EU). Under this Directive, Member States must achieve energy savings from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020. They have to do this by using Energy Efficiency Obligations Schemes and/or other targeted policy measures to ensure energy efficiency improvements can be made in households, industry and the transport sector. The Directive had to be transposed into national law by 5 June 2014. Today the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Slovenia and Estonia, requesting them to fully transpose the Directive into national law.

In 2014, the Commission launched infringement procedures for non-transposition of the Energy Efficiency Directive against 27 EU Member States (all except Malta). So far, the Commission has issued 8 reasoned opinions to Member States where full transposition had still not been achieved (Austria, Portugal, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Romania, Germany, and Latvia) and has decided to refer two Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU (Hungary in March 2015 and Greece in June 2015). The Commission is continuing to monitor the implementation of the Directive and will address any shortcomings in the future. Slovenia and Estonia have now two months to comply with their obligations. After this, the Commission may decide to refer these Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU and ask for financial penalties if the Commission finds that the Member States have still not fully complied with their obligations.

More information on energy efficiency: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energy-efficiency.

 

4. Environment

(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172, Iris Petsa – tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

Referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Commission refers MALTA to the Court of Justice of the EU over finch trapping

The European Commission is referring Malta to the Court of Justice of the European Union over its decision to allow finch trapping on its territory as of 2014.

The case concerns Malta's decision to allow the live capture (i.e. trapping) of seven species of wild finches as of 2014. In the EU, the capture and keeping of bird species like finches is generally prohibited. However, Member States may derogate from the strict protection requirement if there is no other satisfactory solution, and if the derogation is used judiciously, with small numbers and strict supervision. As these conditions have not been met in this case, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice in October 2014, urging Malta to refrain from allowing finch trapping. Despite this warning, Malta went ahead as planned with the opening of a finch trapping season in 2014. In response, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Malta in May 2015, urging Malta to end the practice. Malta has replied, contesting the Commission's analysis. Since Malta has not committed to end finch trapping, the Commission has therefore decided to refer Malta to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

 

Reasoned opinions

Commission asks SPAIN to comply with Environmental Impact Assessment Directive

The European Commission is urging Spain to comply with EU rules to ensure that the authorities assess the effects on the environment of the SE-35 ring road in Seville. Under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive(Directive 2011/92/EU), projects likely to have significant effects on the environment must undergo an assessment of these effects before being approved. As the Spanish authorities had already approved works on different sections of the urban ring road, without having carried out a comprehensive EIA procedure, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion, urging Spain to make good this breach of EU law. If Spain fails to act within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

 

Commission asks ROMANIA to act against poor management of its landfills

The European Commission is urging Romania to act against poor waste management. Under EU waste legislation (Directive 2008/98/EC), any landfill falling short of the agreed standards had to be closed and restored by 16 July 2009. In spite of some progress made by the country, Romania still needs to close and restore 109 illegal landfills (65 municipal, 27 industrial landfills for dangerous waste and 17 industrial landfills for non-dangerous waste). Although Romania claims these landfills are no longer in operation, they still pose a threat to human health and the environment. EU funds available can be a key tool for solving the problem. An additional reasoned opinion is being sent, and if Romania fails to act within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

 

5. Migration and Home Affairs

(For more information: Natasha Bertaud – tel.: +32 229 67456, Milica Petrovic – tel.: +32 229 63020)

 

Reasoned opinion

Commission urges IRELAND to fulfil its obligation to implement biometric identifiers in the residence permits for third country nationals

By sending a reasoned opinion, the European Commission has requested Ireland to ensure that biometric identifiers (facial image and two fingerprints) are included in the residence permits issued to third country nationals as established in Regulation (EC) 1030/2002for a uniform format for residence permits for third-country nationals. More than three years after the deadline, 20 May 2012, Ireland has not yet implemented this obligation under EU law. The harmonisation of security features and the integration of biometric identifiers is an important step towards more secure documents and better protection against fraud. The Commission, therefore, requests the Irish authorities to implement the biometric identifiers in the residence permit for third country nationals. The Irish authorities have now two months to take the necessary measures to comply with the Commission's requests. If they fail to do so, the Commission may decide to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the EU.

 

6. Mobility and Transport

(For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – tel.: +32 229 50595, Alexis Perier - tel.: +32 229 69143)

 

Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Port Security: Commission refers GERMANY to Court of Justice of the EU over the security of its ports

The European Commission had decided to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to fully apply Directive 2005/65/EC on enhancing port security in the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The German authorities have launched an action plan in order to fully implement the obligations provided in this Directive in the land of North Rhine-Westphalia. However, up to now, the draft amendment of the law on port security has not yet been adopted by the North Rhine-Westphalian Parliament.

The deadline for the implementation of the Directive was 15 June 2007. The Commission already urged Germany to adequately fulfil its obligations regarding the port security assessments and plans in the North Rhine-Westphalia ports with a reasoned opinion in September 2014. As no such result has been achieved, the Commission is now taking this case to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

 

Railway safety: Commission refers LITHUANIA to the Court of Justice of the EU

The European Commission has decided to refer Lithuania to the Court of Justice of the EU for failure to correctly transpose European rules on rail safety.

Directive 2004/49/EC requires Member States to establish a safety authority, to establish an independent accident and incident investigation body, and to define common principles for the management, regulation and supervision of railway safety. Lithuania failed to correctly transpose the directive at national level, more specifically by not ensuring the independence of the investigation body. In doing so, Lithuania is preventing a transparent investigation of serious accidents and incidents. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

 

Reasoned opinions

Transport: Commission requests CYPRUS and ROMANIA to transpose rules on port State control

The Commission requested Cyprus and Romania to communicate the national measures taken to ensure the full implementation of Directive 2013/38/EU on port State control. The main purpose of the Directive is to ensure that Member States verify the implementation of certain provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006) as part of their port State controls of foreign ships. As a result, when performing port State control inspections, Member States have to take into account, among others aspects, the procedures regarding the handling of onshore complaints related to matters dealt within the MLC 2006. The Directive had to be implemented by 21 November 2014. Despite letters of formal notice sent to Cyprus and Romania in January 2015, these two countries have either not notified the Commission of all the national measures undertaken yet, or have not yet adopted legislation to comply with the Directive. The request has been sent in the form of a reasoned opinion. Cyprus and Romania have two months to notify the Commission of the measures taken to apply the directive; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Cyprus and Romania to the Court of Justice of the EU.

 

Transport: Commission asks Denmark to comply with cabotage rules in road transport

The European Commission has asked Denmark to bring its national rules into line with Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 on common rules for access to the international road haulage market. Under EU law, each national carriage operation undertaken by a non-resident haulier (cabotage) may involve several loading 'and' unloading points. However, under Danish law each cabotage operation may only involve several loading 'or' unloading points, but not both. In the Commission's view, this further restriction is not warranted. In addition, the Danish authorities impose fines for illegal cabotage reaching DKK 35 000 (€ 4691). The Commission considers this level of fines to be disproportionate to the infringements in question. The request was sent in the form of a reasoned opinion under the EU infringements procedures. Denmark has two months to inform the Commission of measures taken to ensure full compliance with EU law; otherwise the Commission may decide to refer Denmark to the Court of Justice of the EU.

 

7. Taxation and Customs Union

(For more information: Vanessa Mock – tel.: +32 229 56194, Patrick Mc Cullough – tel.: +32 229 87183)

 

Reasoned opinions

Taxation: Commission requests GERMANY to amend its VAT legislation for travel agents

The European Commission has formally requested that Germany amend its VAT legislation on the application of the special scheme for travel agents. 

The scheme allows the travel agent to set a so-called "price margin" (the difference between the actual cost to the agent and the total amount, exclusive of VAT, to be paid by a traveller) as the taxable amount for VAT. According to current German VAT law, this margin scheme can be applied only to travel services provided to private end users. It also allows travel agents to set one single profit margin for all supplies of travel packages sold during a tax period.

Following a judgement against Spain on its implementation of the same scheme on September 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Union decided that this special scheme is applicable not only to private travellers, but also to all customers, including businesses. Furthermore, the travel agent should calculate the margin per travel service, and is not allowed to make an overall calculation of the VAT margins per tax declaration period.

The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU.

 

Taxation: Commission requests GREECE to amend its legislation granting reduced rates of excise duty to "Tsipouro" and "Tsikoudià"

The European Commission has formally requested Greece to amend its excise duty schemes for two specific alcoholic beverages – "Tsipouro" and "Tsikoudià".

Currently, Greece applies 50 percent of the ordinary excise duty rate applied on ethyl alcohol and a super-reduced rate to "Tsipouro" and "Tsikoudià" (around 6% of the ordinary excise duty rate) when these drinks are produced in bulk by so-called "two-day" distillers (vine growers or producers of other agricultural products).

EU rules provide that the same excise duty rate should apply for all products made with ethyl alcohol. Exemptions or derogations are provided explicitly by EU law and must be strictly interpreted. Greece does not have any derogation for "Tsipouro" or "Tsikoudià". The Commission believes that both schemes infringe the relevant EU excise duty legislation and also favour a domestically-produced spirit drink over spirit drinks produced in other Member States. This is an infringement of EU rules on the free movement of goods.

The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer Greece to the Court of Justice of EU.

"Tsipouro" and "Tsikoudia" are traditional alcoholic drinks which are produced in the north of Greece and in Crete. Both drinks have protected geographical indications.

 

Taxation: the Commission asks France to apply the same procedural rules to French and European investors

The Commission has asked France to comply with the procedural rules when it refunds to non-residents the tax deducted at source which was not due on dividends.

Current tax provisions require non-resident taxpayers who have invested in companies established in France to provide proof of payment by the French paying agent of the amount deducted from dividends when they apply for reimbursement of the part not due. In the event of a complaint, non-residents are allowed less time to make their application, as their starting point is the time when the amount is deducted on distribution of the dividends, whereas for taxpayers resident in France it is the time the tax notice is received.

The Commission believes that these provisions give rise to disproportionate procedures contrary to the principles of equivalence and effectiveness on which the Court of Justice of the EU bases its case-law regarding the reimbursement of payments not due (C-310/09, Accor SA). According to the Court, the procedural provisions of a Member State must not make it impossible or excessively difficult to repay tax levied contrary to European Law.

The French authorities are asked to amend the rules in question.

The request is addressed in the form of a reasoned opinion and the French authorities have two months to notify the Commission of the measures taken in order to correctly apply European principles. Failing this the Commission may decide to refer France to the Court of Justice of the EU.

MEMO/15/5657

Press contacts:

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