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 various sectors and EU policy areas (see Annex I and II), aim to ensure the proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.
The key decisions taken by the Commission (including 3 letters of formal notice, 32 reasoned opinions, 8 referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union, and a closure) are presented below and grouped by policy area. The Commission is also closing 78 cases in which the issues with the Member States concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further.
(For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - tel.: +32 229 56186, Nicole Bockstaller – tel.: +32 229 52589)
Oil stocks: Commission requests ROMANIA to fully comply with the Oil Stocks Directive
Today, the European Commission formally requested Romania to ensure the correct implementation and application of the Oil Stocks Directive (Council Directive 2009/119/EC). The EU rules impose an obligation on Member States to maintain minimum stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products, which must be available at all times, and, therefore, gives security of supply of petroleum resources to the EU. The current Romanian legislation prohibits the use of oil stocks as collaterals, i.e. assets offered to secure a loan. This prohibition could make it more difficult for economic operators to fulfil their obligation to hold stocks. Romania has also incorrectly implemented the rules concerning the right of economic operators to delegate their obligation to hold stocks and the establishment of emergency procedures in the event of a major supply disruption. Since compliance with EU law is not yet in place, the Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion. Romania has two months to inform the Commission of the measures taken to remedy the situation; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Energy efficiency: Commission urges SLOVENIA to notify its comprehensive assessment on high-efficiency cogeneration
Today the European Commission formally reminds Slovenia to comply with Article 14(1) of the Energy Efficiency Directive (Directive 2012/27/EU). These rules require Member States to carry out and submit to the Commission a comprehensive assessment of the potential for the application of high-efficiency cogeneration and efficient district heating and cooling before 31 December 2015. Since the requirement has still not been complied with, the Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion. Slovenia now has two months to inform the Commission of the measures taken to remedy the situation, in the absence of which the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU. Under the rules, Member States have to take adequate measures to develop efficient heating and cooling infrastructure and/or accommodate the development of high-efficiency cogeneration and the use of heating and cooling from waste heat and renewable energy sources. So far, Slovenia has not communicated its assessment of the potential in this context. For an overview of the transposition of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive by Member State, see Annex III.
Offshore safety: Commission requests BULGARIA, POLAND, SPAIN and the UNITED KINGDOM to fully transpose the EU Directive on safety of offshore oil and gas operations
The European Commission has requested Bulgaria, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom to ensure the full transposition of the Offshore Safety Directive (Directive 2013/30/EU). The EU has put in place a set of rules to help prevent accidents as well as respond promptly and efficiently should such accidents occur. Member States must ensure that companies - to which they grant a license for exploration or production - are well financed and have the necessary technical expertise, and that they keep resources at hand in order to put them into operation when necessary. Companies are also fully liable for environmental damages caused to protected species and natural habitats. The Directive had to be transposed into national law by 19 July 2015. Today, the Commission sent reasoned opinions to Bulgaria, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom as the Commission identified gaps in the national legislation which transposes the Directive. The four Member States now have two months to comply with their obligations; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU.
(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172, Iris Petsa – tel.: +32 229 93321)
A referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union
SPAIN faces fines for not complying with judgment from 2011 over poor waste water collection and treatment
The European Commission is taking Spain back to the Court of Justice of the EU for its failure to fully and completely comply with the Court judgement of 2011. Spanish regional authorities must ensure that urban waste water is adequately collected and treated in 17 agglomerations across the country to prevent serious risks to human health and the environment. The Court of Justice of the EU ruled on 14 April 2011 (Case C-343/10) that Spain violated EU law by not adequately collecting and treating the urban waste water discharged by 37 agglomerations (towns, cities, settlements). Five years later, this matter remains unaddressed in 17 agglomerations (out of the 37 covered by the judgment) corresponding to 1,400,000 people. In addition, more than 15 years after the deadline of 31 December 2000 for the implementation of the applicable EU rules (Council Directive 91/271/EEC), the perspective for full compliance in all these agglomerations is still unclear. The lack of adequate collection and treatment of the waste water poses significant risks to human health, to inland waters and to the marine environment. The Commission is asking the Court of Justice of the EU to impose a lump sum amounting to €46,522,999 by this date. The Commission is also proposing a daily fine of €171,217.20 if full compliance is not achieved by the date when the Court will issue its second ruling. The penalties proposed take into account the duration of the infringement, its gravity, and the size of the Member State. The final decision on the penalties rests with the Court of Justice of the EU. The second referral to the Court is necessary to ensure compliance in these 17 remaining agglomerations, given the very slow progress so far. For more information, please refer to the fullpress release.
Floods Directive: Commission requests GREECE to act on protection against flooding
The European Commission is urging Greece to live up to its obligations by bringing its national laws on the assessment and management of flood risks into line with the EU rules on flood protection (Directive 2007/60/EC). The Floods Directiveaims to reduce and manage the risks that floods pose to human health, the environment and economic activity. Under this law, Member States had to submit flood hazard maps and flood risk maps to the Commission by 22 March 2014. After Greece missed the initial deadline, the European Commission sent a letter of formal notice in November 2015. The Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion, giving Greece two months to reply. If Greece fails to adopt the required flood prevention documents and submit them to the Commission, it may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Seveso: Commission calls on FINLAND to enact EU rules on prevention of industrial accidents
The European Commission has requested Finland to communicate information about how the Seveso III Directive (Directive 2012/18/EU) is being enacted in its national law. This obligation had to be fulfilled by 31 May 2015. This 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. The Seveso III 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 Finland missed the initial deadline, the European Commission sent a letter of formal notice in July 2015. The Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion. If Finland fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Waste: Commission urges FRANCE to comply with EU waste legislation
The Commission is urging France to live up to its obligations under EU law by adopting and revising its waste management plans for the whole of its territory, in line with the objectives of EU waste legislation (Directive 2008/98/EC) and the circular economy. Such plans are intended to reduce the impact of waste on human health and the environment, and to improve resource efficiency across the EU. France has adopted waste management plans for certain parts of its territory only. It has also failed to ensure that the existing waste management plans are evaluated and, if necessary, revised at least every six years. The Commission is, therefore, sending a reasoned opinion. If France fails to act within two months, it may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Waste: Commission requests CROATIA to ensure proper waste management in Biljane Donje
The European Commission calls on Croatia to take action to ensure that an adequate level of protection is being observed at "Crno brdo" site in Biljane Donje near the town of Benkovac, as required by EU law. The location is currently used as a depository of a large amount of mineral aggregate, created as a by‐product during the recovery of metal from slag. As the Croatian authorities failed to classify that material as waste in line with EU rules on waste (Directive 2008/98/EC), approximately 140,000 tons of this potentially harmful stone aggregate are deposited directly on soil, with consequences for human health and the environment. Under EU law, Croatia should have put in place measures for the protection of groundwater and the prevention of the dispersion of the harmful particles through the air. The infringement of Articles 5(1), 13 and 15(1) of the Directive persists in Biljane Donje as the waste has been deposited on the site for more than three years, contrary to the requirements of the Directive and without any concrete planning for its proper management and rehabilitation of the site. Since the letter of formal notice was sent to Croatia in March 2015, there has been no progress in ensuring that waste management in Biljane Donje is done without endangering human health and without harming the environment. The Commissions is now sending a reasoned opinion. If Croatia fails to remedy the situation within two months, it may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
3. Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union
(For more information: Vanessa Mock – tel.: +32 229 56194, Letizia Lupini - tel.: +32 229 51958)
The Commission requests BULGARIA to enact EU rules on financial reporting
The European Commission has requested Bulgaria to bring its legislation on financial reporting into line with EU law. The Accounting Directive (Directive 2013/34/EU) - which repeals two Council Directives (Fourth Council Directive 78/660/EEC and Seventh Council Directive 83/349/EEC) - aims to reduce the administrative burden for small companies and improve the quality and comparability of the information disclosed in financial reports. It sets out EU-wide rules on annual financial statements, consolidated financial statements and related reports of certain types of undertakings. Member States had to enact these rules in national law by 20 July 2015. Having missed the original deadline, the Commission sent to the Bulgarian authorities a letter of formal notice in September 2015. Today's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If Bulgaria fails to act within two months, this Member State may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
The Commission calls on GREECE to enact EU rules on auditing
The Commission urges Greece to enact EU-wide rules on auditing. The Audit Directive (Directive 2014/56/EU) on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts lays down a number of rules in the field of auditing. The Directive, which amends Directive 2006/43/EC, aims to further harmonise auditing rules at EU level in order to allow for greater transparency and predictability of the requirements applying to persons performing audits and to enhance their independence and objectivity in the performance of their tasks. In particular, the rules include the conditions for the approval and registration of persons that carry out statutory audits and include a framework for their public oversight. Member States had to enact these rules into national law by 17 June 2016. Having missed the original deadline, the Commission sent to Greek authorities a letter of formal notice in July 2016. Today's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If Greece fails to act within two months, it may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
The Commission urges CROATIA, CYPRUS, FINLAND, GREECE, LUXEMBOURG, PORTUGAL, SLOVENIA, SPAIN AND SWEDEN to enact EU rules on mortgage credit
The European Commission has requested Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden to fully transpose EU-wide rules on mortgages. The Mortgage Credit Directive (Directive 2014/17/EU), which was adopted on 4 February 2014, aims to improve consumer protection measures across the EU by introducing EU-wide responsible lending practices. It is essential to improve the mortgage rules as it will boost confidence in the mortgage market and increase choice for consumers. Consumers will benefit from clearer and more understandable information with the introduction of the European Standardised Information Sheet (ESIS), which will allow borrowers to understand better the risks associated with their mortgage agreement as well as letting them compare offers and shop around for the best product to suit their needs at the best price. The most vulnerable consumers will be better protected from over-indebtedness through Europe-wide standards for assessing the creditworthiness of mortgage applicants. The Directive also establishes principles for the authorisation and registration of credit intermediaries. Credit intermediaries that comply with the new business conduct rules will gain access to many more potential consumers in the single market via the passport regime. This will, in the long run, provide lenders with new business opportunities and will be a step towards the creation of a Single European Mortgage Market, which is expected to increase competition and to drive down prices. Member States had to implement these rules in national law by 21 March 2016. Having missed the original deadline, these Member States were sent letters of formal notice in May 2016. Today's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If these Member States fail to act within two months, they may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
The Commission requests IRELAND, SPAIN, PORTUGAL, ROMANIA and LATVIA to enact EU rules on transparency requirements for issuers admitted to trading on regulated markets
The Commission has urged Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Latvia and Romania to bring their legislation on transparency requirements on regulated markets into line with EU law. The Transparency Directive (Directive 2013/50/EU) - which amends Directive 2004/109/EC - sets out rules for issuers of securities admitted to trading on an EU-regulated market. In particular, these rules ensure that they disclose certain key information about their operations, which helps to build sustained investor confidence and contribute to the Capital Markets Union. Member States had to enact these rules in national law by 26 November 2015. Having missed the original deadline, the Commission sent to these Member States letters of formal notice in January 2016. Today's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If they fail to act within two months, they may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
4. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
(For more information: Lucia Caudet – tel.: +32 229 56182, Mirna Talko – tel.: +32 229 87278)
Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union, letters of formal notice, reasoned opinions and a closure
Services: Commission requests 9 Member States to remove unjustified obstacles to the provision of services in the Single Market
The European Commission is taking further steps with regard to Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Spain on the grounds that their national rules include excessive and unjustified obstacles to the provision of services in the internal market. The Commission considers that the requirements imposed on certain service providers in these Member States run counter to the Services Directive (Directive 2006/123/EC). At the same time, the Commission has decided to close the case against Luxembourg following its positive actions to align relevant legislation with EU law. A number of restrictions on services make the establishment and cross-border provision of services across the EU difficult: requiring corporate seats in a given jurisdiction; excessive shareholder requirements such as the requirement for professionals to hold 100% of the voting rights or capital in a company; compulsory minimum tariffs; as well as disproportionate authorisation requirements or exclusivity rights. Such obstacles to market entrants are not necessary to ensure high-quality services of domestic or foreign service providers, and actually deprive consumers of competitively priced services. Today, the Commission is acting to address the following concerns to: Austria: seat requirements for architects and engineers (a complementary reasoned opinion); Belgium: multidisciplinary restrictions for accountants (a reasoned opinion); Cyprus: shareholding requirements for all engineering professions, including civil engineers and architects (a referral to the Court of Justice of the EU); Denmark: authorisation/compulsory certification requirement for certain construction services (a letter of formal notice); Germany: minimum and maximum tariffs for architects and engineers (a referral to the Court of Justice of the EU); Hungary: exclusive right granted to a single operator to provide a service (a referral to the Court of Justice of the EU); Italy: establishment requirements for attestation companies as a prerequisite to provide certification services in public procurement (a complementary letter of formal notice); Lithuania: multidisciplinary restrictions on certain construction service providers (a letter of formal notice); Spain: minimum compulsory tariffs and multidisciplinary restrictions for the legal profession of "Procuradores" - land and business registrars and legal representatives (a reasoned opinion). Member States now have two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy the situation. For more information, please refer to the fullpress release.
5. Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship
(For more information: Tove Ernst – tel.: +32 229 86764, Markus Lammert - tel.: +32 229 80423)
A referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union
Commission refers BULGARIA to the Court for failing to implement rules on e-passports and e-residence permits
The Commission decided today to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU for the non-implementation of the obligation to create a Single Point of Contact to ensure the mandatory exchange of information under the EU document security legislation. The establishment of such contact points is mandatory and should allow for the exchange of information necessary to access the fingerprint images stored on e-passports and e-residence permits for third-country nationals. The exchange of certificates through Single Points of Contact prevents unauthorised reading of the biometric features stored digitally in the documents and ensures that Member States can securely access information on the chips contained in all biometric passports, travel documents and residence permits issued by other Member States. Bulgaria has not implemented this important part of the EU document security legislation and thereby prevents other Member States from securely accessing and verifying the fingerprints stored on the chips in Bulgarian passports. For more information, please refer to the fullpress release.
6. Mobility and Transport
(For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen– tel.: +32 229 56186, Alexis Perier - tel.: +32 229 69143)
Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union
Road transport: Commission refers POLAND to the Court of Justice of the EU on the system of permits for the use of the roads by certain trucks
The European Commission has decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU for the incorrect implementation of Council Directive 96/53/EC on maximum weights and dimensions of certain road vehicles. In particular, Poland restricts the freedom to use its road network to certain trucks even if they comply with EU standards.
Under the Polish legislation, trucks with a weight per axle exceeding eight tonnes or 10 tonnes must obtain a special permit from the responsible road managers for using secondary roads. This is the case even if they are loaded in compliance with EU legislation and should, therefore, be allowed to use these roads without applying for additional permits. Many trucks engaged in long distance transport are in this situation.
In Poland, roads are managed by various administrations (communes, counties, regions and central government), and multiple permits may, therefore, be needed for a single journey. In addition, the procedure to obtain a permit is time-consuming. As a result, this creates a significant burden for hauliers and constitutes an obstacle to the correct functioning of the internal market for transport. The European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to the Polish authorities in February 2016. As Poland has failed to bring its legislation into line with EU law, the European Commission has decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the fullpress release.
Aviation: Commission refers Croatia to the Court of Justice for failing to ratify EU accession to Eurocontrol international convention
The European Commission has decided to refer Croatia to the Court of Justice of the EU for the non-ratification and non-deposition of the Protocol of Accession of the European Community to the Eurocontrol International Convention, signed in 2002. Eurocontrol is an intergovernmental organisation with over 40 States. Many activities conducted by Eurocontrol are relevant to the EU, notably in respect of the implementation of the European Single Sky, which is also one of the priorities of the Aviation Strategy for Europe. In this context, the Council decided already in 2004 to conclude the above mentioned Protocol on behalf of the Union (Decision 2004/636/EC), so as to allow the Union's accession (as a member) to Eurocontrol. However, as long as the Protocol is not ratified notably by all Member States, that accession cannot be completed. The Commission considers that, having still not proceeded with the ratification, Croatia is failing to fulfil its obligations under Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union(TEU). 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. Despite numerous exchanges with the Croatian authorities since March 2014, they have not taken all the steps necessary to complete the ratification of the Protocol. The Commission is, therefore, referring Croatia to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the fullpress release.
Road transport: Commission refers SPAIN to the Court for not complying with the rules on access to the occupation of road transport operator
The European Commission has decided to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to comply with the conditions which must be met by undertakings in order to operate in the road transport market. These conditions are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009. Road transport operators must have at their disposal one or more vehicles registered in the Member State of establishment. Spanish legislation, however, requires undertakings to have at their disposal at least three vehicles. The Commission considers that this requirement is disproportionate and potentially discriminates against small hauliers, which very often have only one vehicle at their disposal, and are, therefore, excluded from the road transport market. The European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to the Spanish authorities in February 2016. As Spain has failed to bring its legislation into line with EU law, the European Commission has decided to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the fullpress release.
Rail transport: Commission calls on GERMANY to fully transpose and implement EU legislation aimed at improving safety of European railways
The European Commission today asked Germany to bring all its national rules into line with Directive 2004/49/EC on the safety of European railways. This directive, which Member States had to transpose by December 2010, aims at ensuring consistent and high levels of safety in all EU rail networks. It notably establishes common principles for the management, regulation and supervision of railway safety. This is to avoid situations whereby different national rules on maintenance would hamper the smooth movement of vehicles throughout the EU. In this regard, the Directive provides that each rolling stock should have an entity in charge of maintenance assigned to it. This entity sets a system of maintenance and ensures that the vehicles are in a safe state. However, the national German rules impose the technical inspection of rolling stock on a periodic basis. Consequently, it is not up to the entity in charge of maintenance to decide on the moment of the technical inspection. Germany has two months to reply to the Commission. If Germany fails to react satisfactorily, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Passenger Rights: Commission urges LUXEMBOURG to fully comply with EU rules
The European Commission requested Luxembourg today to ensure the correct application of the Waterborne Passenger Rights rules as contained in Regulation (EU) 1177/2010. These rules became applicable in December 2012 and grant certain rights to passengers when travelling by sea or inland waterways, such as the right to information, non-discrimination, assistance and compensation in case of transport disruptions. They also include specific rights for passengers with reduced mobility. To date, Luxembourg failed to take the necessary measures to apply the regulation correctly. It has not designated a National Enforcement Body dealing with passenger complaints and enforcing the Regulation, and it has not laid down in its national legislation a penalty system to sanction operators that breach the rules. This undermines the enforcement of the Regulation and the rights of the passengers. Luxembourg has two months to inform the Commission of the measures taken to comply with EU rules; otherwise, the European Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
7. Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality
(For more information: Christian Wigand – tel.: +32 229 62253, Melanie Voin - tel.: +32 229 58659)
A reasoned opinion
Commission requests LITHUANIA to fully implement procedural rights on interpretation and translation during criminal proceedings
The European Commission has called on Lithuania to ensure that rules guaranteeing the right to interpretation and translation in judicial proceedings (Directive 2010/64/EU) are fully implemented in its national law. The Directive guarantees that individuals subject to criminal proceedings in the EU must be offered interpretation and translation services in a language they understand free of charge. This is a fundamental procedural right, safeguarding the right to a fair trial. The Lithuanian authorities have failed to include a number of provisions of the Directive in its legislation. It is currently not compulsory under Lithuanian law to provide an interpreter to help suspects or accused persons to communicate with their lawyer. There is also no procedure for testing the suspects' language skills in order to decide whether they need assistance from an interpreter. In addition, there is no national law that obliges competent authorities to decide whether the translation of a document is essential on a case by case basis, and there is no requirement to provide a written translation of a European arrest warrant. The Directive is one of six directives agreed upon by the EU to create common minimum standards, ensuring that the basic rights of suspects and accused persons are sufficiently protected across the EU (see a factsheet). Nine million people face criminal proceedings across the EU every year. This Directive should have been implemented in national law by 27 October 2013. Lithuania has two months to notify the European Commission of measures taken to remedy this situation; otherwise, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.