In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission ('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, aim to ensure the proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.
The key decisions taken by the Commission are presented below and grouped by policy area. The Commission is also closing 101 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)
A letter of formal notice and a reasoned opinion:
Commission requests the CZECH REPUBLIC and the NETHERLANDS to fully comply with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
The Commission has requested the Czech Republicto correctly transpose all the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive 2010/31/EU) into national law. In the EU, buildings represent 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions. The correct implementation of the Directive is essential for reaching EU energy and climate targets as well as for helping consumers save money on their energy bills and improve their comfort. Under the law, 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, Member States have to ensure that all new buildings are 'nearly-zero energy' buildings from 2021 onwards. According to the Commission's assessment, not all the requirements of the Directive have been fulfilled. In particular, the national legislation does not yet ensure the display of energy performance certificates in buildings frequently visited by the public as required. The Czech Republic has two months to comply with their obligations; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU. The Commission has also sent an additional letter of formal notice to the Netherlands formally requesting to ensure the correct implementation and application of theEnergy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive 2010/31/EU).
A reasoned opinion:
Offshore safety: Commission calls on the NETHERLANDS to fully transpose the EU Directive on safety of offshore oil and gas operations
The Commission has requested the Netherlands to ensure the full transposition of the Offshore Safety Directive (Directive 2013/30/EU). In this Directive, the EU 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 licence 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 an additional reasoned opinion to the Netherlands as gaps remain in the national legislation which transposes the Directive. The Netherlands has two months to comply with its obligations; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
A letters of formal notice:
Electricity and Gas Directives: The Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to the Netherlands formally requesting to ensure the correct implementation and application of the Electricity Directive (Directive 2009/72/EC) and the Gas Directive (Directive 2009/73/EC). The Directives are part of the Third Energy Package and contain key legal provisions which allow energy markets to function properly.
(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172, Iris Petsa – tel.: +32 229 93321)
Nature protection: Commission urges POLAND to comply with nature protection rules for the Gopło Lake
The Commission is sending an additional reasoned opinion to Poland over a breach of the Birds and Habitats Directives in the Natura 2000 sites of the Gopło Lake and Ostoja Nadgoplańska in Central Poland. The case concerns the operations of an open-cast lignite mine located close to these sites. The activities of the open-cast mine result in lowering the groundwater level which may disturb the hydrological balance around the lake and cause significant negative effects on the sites. In the initial reasoned opinion issued in January 2012, the Commission raised the failure to assess the environmental impact of open-cast mining, in particular because of inadequate modelling methods. The Polish authorities agreed to correct the hydrogeological model. The new model confirms the risks of significant adverse effects. However, the environmental permit issued for the mine in 2007 based on the initial assessment is still valid and, despite the findings of the new model, no measures have been taken to review it. For this reason, the Commission decided today to send an additional reasoned opinion and to give Poland an opportunity to adequately address these new findings and adjust the operating conditions of the open-cast mine. If Poland fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Air quality: Commission calls on Poland over failure to communicate measures to reduce emissions from petrol vapour
The Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Poland today as the Polish authorities failed to communicate measures to reduce emissions from petrol vapour. Member States had to transpose a 2014 amendment of EU rules on reducing the amount of petrol vapour emissions released in the air during the refuelling of vehicles at service stations (Commission Directive 2014/99/EU) by 13 March 2016. Poland has still not notified the legal instruments enacting provisions on the testing of petrol vapour recovery systems into national law. This Directive is an essential instrument to protect human health and the environment by limiting the emission of volatile organic compounds from petrol into the air. They cause excessive levels of toxic benzene and photochemical formation of ozone which causes respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. In addition, ozone is a greenhouse gas. The Commission is, therefore, sending a reasoned opinion and giving the Polish authorities two months to reply. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Plastic bags: Commission requests CYPRUS, GREECE, ITALY and POLAND to enact EU rules on lightweight plastic carrier bags
The Commission is urging Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Polandto complete the enactment of EU waste legislation into their national laws. In view of tackling resource waste and littering, Member States had to adopt measures to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags as required by the Plastic Bags Directive (Directive (EU) 2015/720) by 27 November 2016. The Directive obliges Member States to achieve this by putting a price on lightweight plastic carrier bags, and/or introducing national reduction targets. National governments can choose from among a list of measures to achieve the commonly agreed objectives. These include economic instruments, such as charges or levies. Another option is national reduction targets: Member States must ensure that no more than 90 of these bags are consumed per person a year by the end of 2019. By the end of 2025, that number should be down to no more than 40 bags per person.Both options may be achieved either through compulsory measures or agreements with economic sectors. It is also possible to ban plastic bags provided those bans do not go beyond the limits established by the Directive in order to preserve free movement of goods within the European Single Market. The Commission verifies by way of priority whether the Member States have fulfilled the obligation to transpose this Directive. Today, the Commission sends a final warning to Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Poland for continued failure to notify the Commission of their measures. These Member States now have two months to reply to this reasoned opinion. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may refer the Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU.
A letter of formal notice and a reasoned opinion:
Noise: Commission urges the CZECH REPUBLIC and SLOVAKIA to adopt measures on environmental noise
The Commission calls on the Czech Republic and Slovakia to establish the strategic noise maps and action plans, as required under the Noise Directive (Directive 2002/49/EC). Environmental noise – as caused by road, rail and airport traffic, industry, construction, and some other outdoor activities – is the second main cause for premature death after air pollution. The Noise Directive requires Member States to adopt noise maps showing noise exposure within the bigger agglomerations, along main railways and main roads and of major airports. These maps then serve as a basis for defining measures in noise action plans. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice in April 2016 asking Slovakia to comply with the key obligations of the Noise Directive. But as strategic noise maps for 445 major road segments and action plans for 2 agglomerations, for 462 major road segments and for all 16 major railway segments still have not been adopted, the Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion. Slovakia now has two months to respond; otherwise, the Commission may refer Slovakia to the Court of Justice of the EU. The Czech Republic still has to adopt several noise maps and all noise action plans for agglomerations, major roads, railways and the major airport. The Commission has, therefore, decided to send a letter of formal notice. The Czech authorities now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission.
Letters of formal notice:
Air quality: Commission urges ROMANIA to ensure proper monitoring of air quality throughout its whole territory
The Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to Romania over significant gaps in monitoring air pollution. Air pollution poses a major risk to public health causing more than 25 000 premature deaths per year in this Member State alone. This first warning covers the monitoring network of a wide range of zones and agglomerations as well as all major pollutants including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter, lead, benzene, carbon monoxide and ozone, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Proper monitoring is a fundamental pre-requisite for verifying compliance with the different EU air quality standards. EU legislation on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe requires Member States to assess air quality throughout their territory and to take measures to limit the exposure of citizens to pollutants. Romania has failed to establish a monitoring network compliant with EU standards and requirements to effectively assess and improve air quality.
Waste: Commission calls on AUSTRIA and GERMANY to comply with reporting obligations under waste rules
As part of a horizontal action, the Commission has opened infringement proceedings against Austria and Germany for their failure to report on the implementation of EU waste rules. The proceedings opened today address missing data in the report for the years 2013-2015 on reaching recycling and recovery targets for municipal, construction and demolition waste under the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC).
3. Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union
(For more information: Vanessa Mock – tel.: +32 229 56194, Letizia Lupini - tel.: +32 229 51958)
A referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union
Commission refers CROATIA to the Court of Justice for failing to fully enact EU rules on audit
The European Commission has decided to refer Croatia to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully enact European rules on audit in its national legal system. A timely and correct implementation of the Audit Directive (Directive 2014/56/EU) is an important step to reinforce and strengthen EU legislation on statutory audit, as it addresses a number of shortcomings observed in the audit market during the last crisis. Croatia's failure to implement the Directive currently prevents stakeholders, such as investors and shareholders, from benefitting from the new rules which considerably improve audit quality. It also has a detrimental effect on the orderly functioning of national and EU markets. In addition, there are concerns on the reliability and trustworthiness of Croatia's national framework as the enhanced requirements for independence and objectivity contained in the Directive have not been implemented. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Letters of formal notice and reasoned opinions:
Financial services: Commission requests AUSTRIA, DENMARK, ESTONIA and FINLAND to implement EU rules on insurance
The Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to Estonia and Denmark requesting them to fully implement the Solvency II Directive (Directive 2009/138/EC) and the Omnibus II Directive (Directive 2014/51/EU). These Directives – which replace the 14 insurance and reinsurance Directives that were previously known as "Solvency I" - aim to ensure the financial soundness of insurance companies during financially challenging periods. The Directives became fully applicable on 1 January 2016 and the deadline for their implementation in national law was 31 March 2015. However, Estonia and Denmark failed to notify the Commission of all measures necessary to fully implement these rules into their national law. The Commission's requests take the form of a reasoned opinion and follow letters of formal notice, which the Commission had sent in May 2015. Having considered their replies, the Commission is still of the view that transposition of the Directives is not yet complete in these Member States. If the Member States concerned do not act within the next two months, they may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU. On the same matter, the Commission has also decided to send letters of formal notice to Austria and Finland requesting their national authorities to fully enact the Solvency II Directive into their national legislation. If Austria and Finland do not act within the next two months, the Commission may send them reasoned opinions on this matter.
Commission requests BELGIUM and ROMANIA to apply EU rules on payment accounts
The Commission is urging Belgium and Romania to send details about how the Payment Accounts Directive (Directive 2014/92/EU) is being enacted in their domestic law, an obligation they had to fulfil by 18 September 2016. The Directive gives all legal EU residents the right to a basic payment account for a reasonable fee, regardless of place of residence. It also improves the transparency of payment account fees and makes it easier to compare and switch. The Commission's request is taking the form of reasoned opinions; should the Member States in question fail to act within two months, the cases may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Commission requests CYPRUS, SPAIN and IRELAND to implement EU rules on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information
The Commission has today requested that Cyprus, Spain and Ireland fully implement Directive 2014/95/EU on disclosure of non-financial as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups. Financial and non-financial reporting provides shareholders and other stakeholders with a meaningful, comprehensive view of the position and performance of companies. Member States and to implement the Directive by 6 December 2016. However, Cyprus, Spain and Ireland have so far not notified implementing measures to the European Commission. If the measures to fully enact this Directive are not notified within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the Member States in question 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)
Certification services: Commission requests ITALY to remove establishment restrictions for attestation companies
The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Italy, requesting the removal of the restrictions for attestation companies - Società Organismo di Attestazione (SOA). Attestation companies are private organisations that certify the financial and technical capacity of Italian undertakings participating in public works. Italy requires attestation companies from other Member States to have a secondary establishment in Italy. Such requirement constitutes a disproportionate barrier to freedom to provide services for companies established in other Member States, which is incompatible with the Services Directive (Directive 2006/123/EC) and Article 56 of the TFEU. With this reasoned opinion, the Commission requests Italy to remove this restriction. Italy has two months to inform the Commission of measures taken to remedy the situation; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering: Commission urges FINLAND to transpose new rules
The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Finland, requesting it to fully transpose EU Directives in the areas of electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering into their national law. The Directives share the objective of enhancing market surveillance by allowing the tracing of non-compliant products on the EU market. Specifically, the Commission is requesting Finland to extend the transposition of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive (Directive 2014/30/EU), Lifts Directive(Directive 2014/33/EU) and Low Voltage Directive (Directive 2014/35/EU) to cover the Åland Islands. The Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive ensures that electrical and electronic equipment does not generate, nor is affected by, electromagnetic disturbance. The Lifts Directive lays down the requirements that need to be met to place lifts and lift safety components on the EU market while ensuring a high level of safety for lift users and maintenance staff. The Low Voltage Directive lays down the essential safety requirements for electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits, for example, in household appliances, cables and power supply units. All these Directives should have been transposed in full by 19 April 2016. The Finnish authorities now have two months to notify the Commission of the full transposition of the Directives; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer it to the Court of Justice of the EU.
5. Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality
(For more information: Christian Wigand – tel.: +32 229 62253, Melanie Voin - tel.: +32 229 58659)
A reasoned opinion:
Market abuse: Commission urges SPAIN to implement the EU rules on criminal sanctions for market abuse
The Commission has called on Spain to implement EU legislation on criminal rules for market abuse (Directive 2014/57/EU). Together with the Market Abuse Regulation, these rules guarantee that European financial markets are efficient, transparent and trustworthy, and contribute to the completion of the Capital Markets Union. The Directive gives authorities greater powers to take action against criminals who manipulate and abuse information. Member States have to ensure that such behaviour, including the manipulation of benchmarks, is a criminal offence, punishable with effective sanctions everywhere in Europe. The Directive had to be transposed into national law by 3 July 2016. Spain has not yet notified its national rules implementing this EU law to the Commission. As a result, the Commission is officially urging the Spanish authorities to take action. If the Spanish authorities fail to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
6. Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship
(For more information: Tove Ernst – tel.: +32 229 86764, Markus Lammert - tel.: +32 229 80423)
A reasoned opinion:
Migration: Commission requests CROATIA fully apply Eurodac regulation
The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Croatia requesting it correctly implement the Eurodac Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 603/2013). The Eurodac Regulation provides for the effective fingerprinting of asylum seekers and irregular migrants apprehended having crossed an external border and the transmission of this data to the central Eurodac database. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to the Croatian authorities in December 2015 for failing to fully implement the Eurodac regulation. The Commission's concerns have still not been addressed, which is why the Commission is today following up with a reasoned opinion. Croatia now has two months to respond, after which the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Letters of formal notice:
Relocation: Commission launches infringement procedures against the CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY and POLAND
The Commission launched today infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for non-compliance with their obligations under the 2015 Council Decisions on relocation. Despite the Commission's repeated calls for action, these three countries remain in breach of their legal obligations and have shown disregard for their commitments to Greece, Italy and other Member States. The Council Decisions require Member States to pledge available places for relocation every three months to ensure a swift and orderly relocation procedure. Whereas Hungary has not taken any action at all since the relocation scheme started, Poland has not relocated anyone and not pledged since December 2015. The Czech Republic has not relocated anyone since August 2016 and not made any new pledges for over a year. The Commission had previously announced in the 12th Relocation and Resettlement report presented on 16 May that those Member States that have not relocated anyone, or have not pledged for almost a year, breaching their legal obligations, should start doing so immediately and within a month. As announced yesterday in the 13th report on relocation and resettlement, since no action has yet been taken by the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to meet their legal obligations, the Commission has decided today to launch infringement procedures and address letters of formal notice to these three Member States. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
7. Mobility and Transport
(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172, Alexis Perier - tel.: +32 229 69143)
A reasoned opinion:
Rail transport: Commission urges SPAIN to complete the transposition of rules establishing a single European railway area
The Commission has requested Spain to fully transpose Directive 2012/34/EU establishing a single European railway area. This Directive puts in place detailed charging and capacity allocation rules which aim at ensuring non-discriminatory and affordable access to railway infrastructure for all railway undertakings. It also strengthens the role of independent national rail regulatory bodies by introducing inter alia a right to control the structure and level of charges as well as arrangements for access to service facilities (such as terminals and stations) and to carry out audits of accounts of infrastructure managers, railway undertakings and service facility operators. The Directive also requires Member States to ensure that infrastructure managers cooperate on certain capacity allocation and charging questions affecting international transport. Directive 2012/34/EU had to be transposed in national law by 16 June 2015 at the latest. While the Spanish authorities have adopted legislation transposing parts of the Directive, the transposition measures notified by Spain do not appear to be complete. Spain now has two months to notify the Commission of additional measures; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
8. Taxation and Customs Union
(For more information: Vanessa Mock – tel.: +32 229 56194, Patrick Mc Cullough – tel.: +32 229 87183)
Taxation: Commission successfully resolves case in FINLAND regarding car tax on rental and leasing vehicles
The Commission closed today an infringement procedure it had taken against Finland regarding car tax on leased and rental cars. According to case law of the Court of Justice of the EU, only a proportionate amount of car tax can be levied upon the registration by a Finnish resident of a motor vehicle leased or rented in another Member State when the precise duration of the use can be determined, for example, on a car being leased or rented. In Finland, citizens were previously obliged to pay the entire amount of car tax upfront and await a refund of the remaining tax once the car was no longer registered in Finland. Following action taken by the Commission in February 2015, Finland amended its legislation on 1 January 2017 so that it now complies with EU law.
9. Principles of the Treaties
(For more information: Alexander Winterstein – tel.: +32 229 93265, Uldis Šalajevs – tel.: +32 229 67560)
A letter of formal notice:
State liability for breach of EU law. The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Spain on the grounds that its national rules on State liability for a breach of EU law due to the Spanish legislature are contrary to the principles of equivalence and/or effectiveness. The Spanish legislation has established less favourable conditions for liability for a breach of EU law than for liability due to a breach of the Spanish Constitution. In addition, it contains procedural conditions which are also not in line with established case law of the Court of Justice of the EU. The contested national provisions thus render State liability for a breach of EU law excessively difficult, with a negative impact on the effectiveness of EU law.