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European Commission - Fact Sheet

December infringements' package: key decisions

Brussels, 10 December 2015

Overview by policy area

1

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 EU policy areas (see Annex), aim to ensure proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.

The key decisions taken by the Commission (including 4 letters of formal notice, 34 reasoned opinions, and 9 referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union) are presented below and grouped by policy area. The Commission is also closing 83 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 EU infringement procedure, see the full MEMO/12/12. For more detail on all decisions taken, consult the infringement decisions' register.

1. Agriculture and Rural Development

(For more information: Daniel Rosario - tel.: +32 229 56185, Clémence Robin – tel.: +32 229 52509)

A Reasoned opinion

Agriculture: Commission requests CYPRUS to ensure implementation of EU rules on honey labelling

The European Commission is asking Cyprus to adopt and notify the national transposition measures of Directive 2014/63/EU related to honey. The main purposes of the Directive are to ensure that pollen, being a natural constituent particular to honey, should not be considered as one of its ingredients and to clarify the labelling requirements for the cases where honey originates in more than one Member State or third country. The Directive had to be implemented by 24 June 2015. According to the information available to the Commission, in spite of the letter of formal notice sent to Cyprus on 22 July 2015, Cyprus has either not notified the Commission of the national measures or has not yet adopted legislation to comply with the Directive. The request has been sent in the form of a reasoned opinion. Cyprus has two months to notify the Commission of the measures taken to apply the directive; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Cyprus to the Court of Justice of the EU.

2. Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

(For more information: Christian Wigand - tel.: +32 229 62253, Justyna Milanowska – tel.: +32 229 94246)

Reasoned opinions

Health and Safety: the Commission requests IRELAND, ITALY, and LUXEMBOURG to transpose the CLP Directive into their respective national law

Today, the Commission requested Ireland, Italy, and Luxembourg to transpose the Directive on classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures (Directive 2014/27/EU)into their national legislation. The CLP Regulation is an EU regulation, which entered into force on 20 January 2009 and aligns the Union system of classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures to the United Nations Globally Harmonised System (GHS) in accordance with the Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008. Member States' laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive had to enter into force by 1 June 2015 and the Commission had to be informed immediately. On 22 July 2015, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to three Member States which had failed to notify such measures. Member States have two months to reply to a letter of formal notice. As the respective Member States have not done so in the meantime, the Commission concluded that they have still not taken all the necessary measures related to the CLP Directive. Therefore, the European Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Ireland, Italy, and Luxembourg. The concerned Member States now have two months to comply with their obligations. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Ireland, Italy, and Luxembourg 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)

A reasoned opinion

Commission requests PORTUGAL to comply with Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

By sending a reasoned opinion, the European Commission has requested Portugal to correctly transpose all the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive 2010/31/EU) into national law. Under this Directive, Member States must establish and apply minimum energy performance requirements for new and existing buildings, ensure the certification of buildings' energy performance, and require the regular inspection of heating and air conditioning systems. In addition, the Directive requires Member States to ensure that all new buildings are ‘nearly-zero energy’ from 2021 onwards (2019 - for public buildings). A detailed examination of the national legislation transposing the Directive revealed that firstly, some of its requirements did not apply in the Azores region, Portugal. Secondly, the national legislation itself contained exemptions from the energy performance requirements, which are not foreseen in this Directive. Thirdly, Portugal has decided to adopt alternative measures to regular inspection of heating and air conditioning systems, but has not provided the necessary evidence that the same amount of energy savings can be achieved with the alternative measures, as required by the Directive. Therefore, today, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Portugal asking to fully ensure that all the requirements of the Buildings Directive are correctly transposed. Portugal has two months now to notify the European Commission of measures taken to remedy this situation, following that the Commission may decide to refer it to the Court of Justice of the EU.More information about the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is available on the website of DG Energy.

4. Environment

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

Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Waste management: Commission refers GREECE to the Court of Justice of the EU over illegal landfill

The European Commission is referring Greece to the Court of Justice of the EU over poor waste management on the Greek island of Corfu. The Commission's concerns relate to the Temploni landfill which has been operating in breach of EU waste and landfill legislation (Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, and Council Directive 1999/31/EC) since at least 2007, and represents a serious risk for human health and the environment.In an effort to urge Greece to take the necessary measures in order to ensure the proper functioning of the Temploni landfill, the Commission is referring Greece to the Court of Justice of the EU. Various on-site inspections by national authorities have revealed that the Temploni landfill is operating very poorly and in breach of EU legislation. The shortcomings include improper management of biogas, missing treatment of liquid draining from the landfill (leachates), and the presence of waste which the site is not permitted to treat. The European Commission expressed its concerns in a letter of formal notice in March 2011 and in a reasoned opinion in January 2012. Although the Greek authorities have recognised this issue and are trying to address it, the necessary measures have still not been taken and the landfill continues to operate in breach of EU waste legislation, constituting a serious threat to the environment. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Air quality: Commission refers POLAND to the Court of Justice of the EU over poor air quality

The European Commission decided today to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU over persistently high levels of dust particles that pose a major risk to public health. In Poland, the daily limit values for the airborne particles (PM10) have been persistently exceeded in 35 out of 46 air quality zones for at least for the last five years, including 2014. Additionally, in nine zones the annual limit values have also been persistently exceeded. The PM10 pollution in Poland is predominantly caused by low-stack emissions (emissions from sources with a height lower than 40m) from household heating. The legislative and administrative measures taken so far to limit this persisting non-compliance have been deemed insufficient by the Commission. Today's decision follows an additional reasoned opinion which was sent to Poland in February 2015. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Reasoned opinions

Timber: Commission asks SPAIN to implement EU Timber and FLEGT Regulation

The European Commission requests Spain to step up efforts to comply with EU law to counter the trade in illegally harvested timber. The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR; Regulation (EU) No 995/2010) which came into force on 3 March 2013 prohibits the placing of illegally harvested timber on the European market while the Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation of the Forest Law (Council Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005), applicable since 2005, establishes a licensing scheme to verify the legality of imports of timber into the EU from countries that have partnership agreements under the scheme. The Commission first raised its concerns over the application of both Regulations in a letter of formal notice which was sent to Spain in June 2015. Although Spain has reported significant progress, a number of measures are still needed to close the compliance gaps. In particular, Spain still has to designate competent authorities for the implementation of both Regulations. The Commission is thus sending a reasoned opinion. If Spain fails to act within two months, the Commission may refer this case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Commission requests BELGIUM, CYPRUS, and GREECE to enact EU rules on prevention of industrial accidents

The European Commission is urging Belgium, Cyprus, and Greece to send information about how the Seveso III Directive (Directive 2012/18/EU) is being enacted in their domestic law, an obligation due to be fulfilled by 31 May 2015. The Directive and its predecessors - Seveso Directives I and II - aim to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances and limit their consequences on citizens and the environment. This new Directive, which entered into force on 1 June 2015, takes into account a number of changes in EU legislation, including on the classification of chemicals, and increased rights for citizens to access information and justice. After Belgium, Cyprus and Greece missed the original deadline, the European Commission sent letters of formal notice to Belgium, Cyprus and Greece on 22 July 2015. The Commission is now sending reasoned opinions, and if the Member States in question fail to act within two months, these cases may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

5. Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

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

Reasoned opinions

Financial Services: Commission requests CYPRUS to implement EU rules in the area of insurance

The European Commission has requested Cyprustotransposethe Solvency II Directive (Directive 2009/138/EC), and its amendments into its national law. Solvency II introduces for the first time a common, sound and robust prudential framework for insurance firms in the EU, including quantitative, governance and reporting rules, to facilitate the development of a single market in insurance services. These new insurance rules aim to ensure the financial soundness of insurance companies so that they can cover risks in difficult periods. The Solvency II Directive will become fully applicable on 1 January 2016. The deadline for the implementation of this Directive in national law was 31 March 2015. However, Cyprus failed to notify the Commission of measures to enact these rules into national law. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion and comes after a letter of formal notice which was sent to Cyprus in May 2015. If this Member State does not comply within two months, the Commission may decide to refer Cyprus to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Financial Services: Commission requests HUNGARY, LUXEMBOURG and POLAND to implement EU rules in the area of financial conglomerates

The European Commission has requested Hungary, Luxembourg, and Poland to implement the first amendment of the Financial Conglomerates Directive (Directive 2011/89/EU, "FICOD1"). This directive amended the original FICOD (Directive 2002/87/EU) as well as Directives 98/78/EC, 2006/48/EC and 2009/138/EC with regards to supplementary supervision of financial entities in a financial conglomerate. These groups are financial groups which have significant activity in both the banking/investment and insurance sectors. FICOD1 was adopted as a 'quick fix' directive to address gaps in supplementary supervision revealed during the crisis, in particular allowing supervisors to apply both sectorial and supplementary supervision simultaneously. Member States were required to implement the amendments by June 2013, with the exception of provisions relating to alternative investment managers where the deadline was July 2013. However, these three countries have failed to notify all the necessary measures to the European Commission, as a result of which the Commission cannot conclude that complete implementation of these rules into national law has taken place. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion, after letters of formal notice were sent in April 2014. If the Member States do not comply within two months, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Financial Services: Commission requests 10 Member States to implement EU rules on Deposit Guarantee Schemes

The European Commission has formally requested Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Sweden to fully implement the Deposit Guarantee Schemes' Directive (Directive 2014/49/EU, DGSD). This Directive, which builds upon the previous Directive 94/19/EC of 1994, improves the protection of deposits. Depositors will benefit from quicker pay-outs and a stronger safety net as more unified funding requirements will ensure that deposit guarantee schemes are pre-funded and will be able to fulfil their obligations towards depositors more efficiently. It is a step towards a fully-fledged Banking Union to create a safer and sounder financial sector in the wake of the financial crisis. For Member States within the Banking Union, the implementation of the DGSD is a pre-condition for the future use of the European Deposit Insurance Scheme proposed by the Commission (see IP/15/6152). This future Scheme would provide a stronger and more uniform degree of insurance cover for people with bank deposits in the Banking Union, ensuring that depositors can be equally confident in their bank, wherever that bank is located. The deadline for transposing these rules into national law was 3 July 2015 (see MEMO/13/1176). However, 10 EU countries have failed to implement these rules into their national law. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If these Member States fail to comply within two months, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

6. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

(For more information: Lucia Caudet – tel.: +32 229 56182, Heli Pietila – tel.: +32 229 64950)

Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Public procurement: Commission refers AUSTRIA to the Court of Justice of the EU over the direct award of security printing services

The European Commission has decided to refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the EU for instructing federal authorities to directly award security printing services of official documents such as passports, driving licenses, or identity cards to the Austrian State Printing House (Österreichische Staatsdruckerei GmbH, OeSD), a private undertaking. The Commission considers that the direct award of security printing services to a private company, without a public tender, violates the EU rules on public procurement. These rules are designed to guarantee fair competition and better value for money for contracting authorities and taxpayers. As the Austrian authorities have not taken any measures to remedy the situation and failed to demonstrate why a private company should be awarded a public contract without giving other companies the chance to compete, the European Commission has decided to refer this case to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Industry: Commission refers GERMANY to the Court of Justice of the EU over failure to apply Directive on mobile air conditioning

The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU over the failure to applyDirective 2006/40/EC(Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive) on mobile air-conditioning systems which prescribes the use of motor vehicles' refrigerants with less global warming potential and the phasing out of certain fluorinated greenhouse gases. National type-approval authorities have the obligation to certify that a vehicle meets all EU safety, environmental and production requirements – including those on mobile air-conditioning systems – before authorising it to be placed on the EU market. This is regulated by Directive2007/46/EC, which sets out the general framework for car type-approvals and foresees a range of remedial actions including the possibility to impose penalties. The Commission alleges that Germany has infringed EU law by allowing the car manufacturer Daimler AG to place automobile vehicles on the EU market that were not in conformity with the MAC Directive, and failing to take remedial action. Daimler AG invoked safety concerns regarding the use of refrigerants prescribed by the MAC Directive. These concerns were not shared by any other car manufacturer and were rejected by Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, KBA) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC), which undertook an additional risk analysis in 2014. Despite contacts between the Commission and the German authorities in the context of the infringement procedure, Germany has not taken any further steps against the issuing of the type-approval of non-compliant motor vehicles and has not taken appropriate remedial action on the manufacturer. In referring Germany to the Court of Justice, the Commission aims to ensure that the climate objectives of the MAC Directive are fulfilled and that EU law is uniformly applied throughout the EU so as to ensure fair competitive conditions for all economic operators. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

A reasoned opinion

Free movement of goods: Commission requests FRANCE to remove restrictions to trade of "handmade" shoes manufactured and labelled in another Member State

The European Commission has formally requested France to change its law on handmade shoes (law No 48/824). The French law exclusively reserves the designation "handmade" ("fait main" in French) for shoes manufactured in a specific manner described in the law. Handmade shoes manufactured using different methods in other Member States are not recognised and are denied the use of the French translation of designations such as "handmade", "fatto a mano" (in Italian), "hand gemacht" (in German), "hecho a mano" (in Spanish) in the French market. This puts manufacturers and importers of handmade shoes coming from different Member States at a commercial disadvantage in France. It denies the principle of mutual recognition and has the effect equivalent to quantitative restrictions on free movement of goods within the European Single Market (Article 34 of TFEU). The measure is not proportionate and cannot be justified on grounds of the protection of consumers. The Commission's request that France changes its national law takes the form of a reasoned opinion. France has now two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy the situation; otherwise, the European Commission may decide to refer France to the Court of Justice of the EU.

7. Migration and Home Affairs

(For more information: Tove Ernst – tel.: +32 229 86764, Markus Lammert - tel.: +32 229 80423)

Letters of formal notice and reasoned opinions

Commission opens infringement procedure against HUNGARY concerning its asylum law

The European Commission addressed a letter of formal notice to Hungary today, opening an infringement procedure concerning the recently adopted Hungarian asylum legislation. The Commission has found the Hungarian legislation in some instances to be incompatible with EU law (specifically, the recast Asylum Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU) and the Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings (Directive 2010/64/EU)). The Commission had already examined the legislative amendments adopted by the Hungarian Parliament in July and September 2015 and sent an administrative letter outlining our preliminary concerns to the Hungarian authorities. After careful examination of the reply from the Hungarian authorities, a number of concerns remain. As a consequence of these concerns, the Commission has today initiated an infringement procedure and sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary. The Hungarian authorities have two months to respond to the Commission. In addition to the letter of formal notice concerning these specific issues, the Commission will continue bilateral contacts with the Hungarian authorities and will request additional clarification on other outstanding issues. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Implementing the Common European Asylum System: Commission escalates 8 infringement proceedings

The European Commission adopted today 8 infringement decisions for failing to fully transpose and implement the Common European Asylum System. The decisions concern Greece, Croatia, Italy, Malta and Hungary (see IP/15/6228). Today's measures follow the 40 decisions launched on 23 September 2015, in addition to the 34 already pending cases, on potential or actual infringements of EU asylum legislation. The Commission will continue to pursue infringement procedures swiftly and effectively to ensure full compliance with EU legislation in this area. The Commission is today urging Greece, Croatia and Italy to correctly implement the Eurodac Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 603/2013), which provides for effective fingerprinting of asylum seekers and transmission of data to the Eurodac central system within 72 hours. Effective implementation of the Eurodac Regulation is essential for the functioning of the Dublin system and EU relocation schemes. The European Commission sent administrative letters to Greece, Croatia and Italy in October. Two months later, concerns have not been effectively addressed. The European Commission has therefore decided today to send Letters of Formal Notice to Greece, Croatia and Italy (the first step of an infringement procedure). The          Commission is also urging Greece and Malta to communicate the national measures taken to fully transpose the Asylum Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU), which sets out common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and the Reception Conditions Directive (Directive 2013/33/EU), which deals with access to reception conditions for asylum seekers while they wait for examination of their applications. Greece and Malta have not communicated the necessary transposition measures. Letters of Formal Notice were sent on 23 September 2015 to Greece, Malta and 16 other Member States concerning the Asylum Procedures Directive. Letters of Formal Notice were also sent to Greece, Malta and 17 other Member States on the same date concerning the Reception Conditions Directive. Despite these letters, Greece and Malta have not yet notified the Commission of their transposition measures. Therefore the Commission has decided today to address 'Reasoned Opinions' to both Member States concerning both Directives. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

A reasoned opinion

Commission requests BELGIUM to ensure full implementation of the Directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography

The European Commission addressed a reasoned opinion to Belgium today concerning the non-communication of national measures taken to transpose the Directive on combatting the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography (Directive 2011/92/EU) into national law. On 27 January 2014, a letter of formal notice was sent to Belgium for non-implementation of this Directive, adopted in December 2011. The Commission considers that the replies, provided by Belgium to this letter of formal notice, have not been satisfactory and has thus launched the second stage of the infringement procedure. The Directive establishes minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and solicitation of children for sexual purposes. This Directive also introduces provisions aiming at preventing convicted offenders of sex crimes against children from exercising professional activities involving regular contact with children. Belgium has two months to notify the European Commission of all measures taken to ensure full implementation of the Directive. If necessary, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

8. Justice and Consumers

(For more information: Christian Wigand – tel.: +32 229 62253, Melanie Voin - tel.: +32 229 58659)

Reasoned opinions

Commission asks GREECE and ROMANIA to ensure protection for victims of crime in other EU countries

The European Commission has requested Greece and Romania to correctly implement the directive into national legislation so that victims can benefit from their right to continued protection when they travel in the EU. Thanks to the European Protection Order's Directive (Directive 2011/99/EU), victims and potential victims of crime who benefit from protection in their home country can use the European Protection Order form to ensure they are also protected in other EU countries. A Protection Order typically may include an offender being banned from contacting or approaching a certain person or from entering specific places. The rules are particularly important to victims of domestic violence who often receive protection from national authorities to prevent further aggression or re-assault by an offender. Member States had until 11 January 2015 to implement the legislation into national law (see a full press release of 9 January 2015). On 27 March 2015, infringement procedures were opened following a check of national laws. Romania and Greece now have two months to comply with its obligations; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer these Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU.

9. 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

Transport: Commission refers AUSTRIA, GERMANY, FINLAND, and POLAND to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to correctly transpose EU rules on driving licences

The European Commission has decided to refer Austria, Germany, Finland, and Poland to the Court of Justice of EU for failing to correctly transpose European rules on driving licences (Directive 2006/126/EC). Germany, Finland and Poland have, inter alia, failed to issue licences with the required validity periods or to correctly define certain driving licence categories. In some cases, Austria and Germanyhave also given incorrect driving rights to holders of certain truck or bus licences. Furthermore, Poland has not correctly transposed the rules on normal residence, notably concerning persons who live successively in different Member States. In addition, the European Commission has decided to refer Finland to the Court for additionally failing to connect to the EU driving licences network ("RESPER") as required by Directive 2006/126/EC. RESPER can help Member States cooperate with each other and ensure that driving licences are issued in accordance with EU rules. The exchange of information through RESPER should have started on 19 January 2013. The European Commission opened these infringement proceedings in July 2014, and sent a reasoned opinion to the Member States concerned in February 2015. As it stands today, these Member States (Austria, Germany, Finland, and Poland) have still failed to fulfil their obligations under Directive 2006/126/EC, and therefore the Commission has decided to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Reasoned opinions

Transport: Commission requests GERMANY to respect duty of sincere cooperation enshrined in the Treaties

The European Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Germany for voting in contradiction with the European Union's position during the 25th session of the Revision Committee of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF). The Commission considers that by voting contrary to the European Union's position as established in Council Decision 2014/699/EU, and by openly distancing itself from the European Union's vote, Germany failed to fulfil its obligations under the said Decision. By doing so, it also failed to observe its duty of sincere cooperation enshrined in Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union. This Article lays down the principle of sincere cooperation and underlines the obligation of the Member States to facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and to refrain from any measure that could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives. Germany has now two months to respond, after which the Commission may refer it to the Court of Justice of the EU.

10. Health and Food Safety

(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172, Aikaterini Apostola - tel.: +32 229 87624)

A referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Public health: Commission refers POLAND to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully transpose rules on the quality and safety for human blood

The European Commission decided today to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU for not transposing certain provisions of EU legislation laying down the quality and safety standards for human blood (Directives 2002/98/EC, 2004/33/EC and 2005/61/EC). These Directives lay down a number of provisions aimed at ensuring the safety of blood, including rules for the minimum age of donors, conditions for importing blood from third counties, and reporting obligations of blood establishments. To date, Poland has not informed the European Commission about the adoption of national legislation comprehensively transposing the relevant EU Directives. Poland had to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directives 2002/98/EC and 2004/33/EC by 8 February 2005, and the Directive 2005/61/EC by 31 August 2006, as well as to communicate to the Commission the relevant texts of the provisions of national law transposing these Directives. Instead, the draft new law on the donation of blood and blood treatment remains the subject of legislative procedures at governmental level. The European Commission, therefore, considers that Poland has failed to fulfil certain obligations under Directives 2002/98/EC, 2004/33/EC and 2005/61/EC on quality and safety standards for human blood and blood components. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

11. Taxation and Customs Union

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

Reasoned opinions

Taxation: GERMANY is requested to change its excise duty rules for small non-commercial mail containing tobacco products sent by private individuals

The European Commission formally requested today that Germany amend its excise duty legislation on the way it applies for tobacco products that are sent by private individuals in small, non-commercial mails from another EU country. Under current rules, German excise duty is assessed on small non-commercial mails containing tobacco products from other Member States sent by private individuals. Nevertheless, due to the lack of German tax markings, which have to be asked for and affixed to the products before they enter German territory, these products are not allowed to be handed out to the recipient. As a consequence, they are confiscated and subsequently destroyed. The Commission believes that the systematic confiscation and subsequent destruction of goods, without any differentiation based on the circumstances of the case, is contrary to the principle of proportionality under EU law. 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 that ITALY amend its excise duty legislation for petrol and diesel in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region

The European Commission has today formally requested that Italy amend its legislation which grants a reduction on the price of petrol and diesel bought by motorists' resident in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, Italy. The Commission believes that the contribution in question constitutes a reduction of excise duties on the fuel. The Energy Tax Directive (Council Directive 2003/96/EC) does not provide for such reductions or exemptions. 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 Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU.

MEMO/15/6223

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