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 86 cases in which the issues with the Member States concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further.
1. Agriculture and Rural Development
(For more information: Daniel Rosario - tel.: +32 229 56185, Clémence Robin – tel.: +32 229 52509)
Letters of formal notice
Geographical indications: Commission calls on BULGARIA to cancel national framework on geographical indications
The Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria regarding its Trademark and Geographical Indication Act of 1 September 1999. The Commission takes the view that a national protection of geographical indications is not compatible with EU rules on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs (Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012). EU regulation, according to a consistent case law - C-478/07 (Budvar, 2009) and C-56/16/P (EUIPO v Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto, 2017) - provides for a uniform and exhaustive system of protection for geographical indications falling within its scope. Bulgaria should have put an end to this national registration system from the date of the accession to the EU in 2007 and could only have protected existing national geographical indications for 12 months after the date of accession if an application at EU level had been done during this limited period. Bulgaria has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.
Geographical indications: Commission requests DENMARK to enforce protection of the protected designation of origin "Feta"
The Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice to Denmark regarding the alleged failure of the Danish authorities to adequately fulfil its obligations under the Regulation on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs (Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012). The Commission is of the opinion that the unlawful use of the registered Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) "Feta" occurs in Denmark, where some companies - which produce or import white cheese - export it to third countries with a misleading 'Feta' labelling. 'Feta' is a registered PDO since 2002. Article 13 of the EU Regulation protects registered names against several types of misuse. These include the direct or indirect commercial use of the registered name for products which are comparable to those registered under that name, or alternatively use aimed at exploiting the reputation of the name.
2. Digital Single Market
(For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - tel.: +32 229 67083, Inga Höglund – tel.: +32 229 50698)
Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union and closures
Broadband Cost Reduction Directive: Commission refers BULGARIA and the Netherlands to the Court and closes two cases
The European Commission decided today to refer Bulgaria and the Netherlands to the Court of Justice of the EU for delay in transposing the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive (Directive 2014/61/EU). At the same time, the Commission closes the cases against Austria and Luxembourg that have notified the complete transposition of the same Directive. Member States had to transpose the Directive into national law by 1 January 2016. The Commission is calling on the Court to impose financial penalties: for Bulgaria - € 22 226.40 per day, for the Netherlands - € 87 091.20 per day. The infringement proceedings were opened against those countries in March 2016 and a reasoned opinion was sent in September 2016. These Member States have not yet notified the Commission all the measures necessary in order to transpose the Directive into national law. In July 2017, the Commission decided to refer Belgium and Slovakia to the Court of Justice of the EU for delay in transposing the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive. The Broadband Cost Reduction Directive aims at incentivising cooperation across sectors and exploiting synergies (e.g. with energy, water, transport) to the benefit of the citizens by creating the condition for more efficient deployment of new physical infrastructure so that the networks can be rolled out at lower cost. Civil engineering, such as the digging-up of roads to lay down high-speed broadband, accounts for up to 80% of the cost of deploying broadband networks. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Collective Rights Management: Commission refers POLAND to the Court of Justice and closes eight cases
The European Commission decided today to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU for failure to notify complete transposition (partial non-transposition) of EU rules on collective management of copyright and related rights, and multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online use (Directive 2014/26/EU) into national law. The Commission is calling on the Court to impose a financial penalty on Poland - € 87 612.00 per day. Member States had to transpose the Directive into national law by 10 April 2016. Moreover, the Commission has decided to close the so-called "lack of notification" infringement cases against eight countries: Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Latvia and Portugal, which were opened for failure to notify to the Commission the national measures transposing the Collective Rights Management Directive in national law. These cases related to the lack of implementing measures and not to the substance of national implementing laws, on which the Commission did not take a position. The eight Member States have now informed the Commission that the necessary legislation has been adopted to fully transpose the Directive into national legislation. The Collective Rights Management Directive aims at improving the way all collective management organisations are managed by establishing common governance, transparency and financial management standards. It also sets common standards for the multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online uses in the internal market. The Directive is an essential part of Europe's copyright legislation. All collective management organisations have to improve their standards on governance and transparency. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
(For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - tel.: +32 229 56186, Nicole Bockstaller – tel.: +32 229 52589)
A referral to the Court of Justice of the European
Commission refers ROMANIA to Court for failing to fully comply with the Oil Stocks Directive
The European Commission has decided to refer Romania to the Court of Justice of the EU for not having correctly implemented and applied the Oil Stocks Directive (Council Directive 2009/119/EU). According to the Oil Stocks Directive, Member States must ensure maintenance and availability of minimum stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products in order to ensure security of supply of petroleum resources to the EU. The Commission reminded Romania of its obligations under the Oil Stocks Directive on 20 November 2015 which include the obligation to have in place emergency procedures and a contingency plan in the event of a major supply disruption; the obligation to ensure a clear and effective framework for operators to be able to delegate their stockholding obligations. The Commission also questioned the fact that the Romanian legislation prohibits the use of oil stocks as collaterals, i.e. assets offered to secure a loan, which could make it more difficult for economic operators to fulfil their obligation to hold stocks. Having failed to address these concerns, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Romania on 18 November 2016. The Commission has now decided to refer Romania to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Internal Energy Market: Commission requests BULGARIA to fully comply with the Third Energy Package Directives
The Commission has requested Bulgaria to correctly implementthe 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 provisions for a proper functioning of energy markets, including rules on unbundling of transmission system operators from energy suppliers and producers, on strengthening national regulators and on improved functioning of retail markets to the benefit of consumers. According to the Commission's assessment, Bulgaria has incorrectly transposed several unbundling requirements concerning the ownership unbundling model, the independent transmission operator unbundling model and the distribution system operator. Also, Bulgaria has not correctly transposed the rules on connection to the network by allowing the gas transmission system operator to refuse connection on the basis of lack of system capacity. Bulgaria 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.
Energy Efficiency: Commission requests SLOVENIA to fully comply with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
The Commission has requested Sloveniato 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 Slovenia. In particular, the national legislation does not yet ensure the display of energy performance certificates in all buildings frequently visited by the public, as required. Sloveniahas two months to comply with its obligations; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
(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
Environmental impact assessment: Commission takes IRELAND back to the Court and proposes fines
The European Commission is taking Ireland back to the Court of Justice of the EU for its failure to comply with part of the Court judgement of 3 July 2008 (C-215/06, Commission v Ireland), by not carrying out an environmental impact assessment for the Derrybrien wind farm in County Galway in Ireland. Although the Derrybrien wind farm was constructed already more than 13 years ago, no real impact assessment has been carried out. Such impact assessment of certain public and private projects on the environment is required under the EU rules before construction is allowed to commence. The scale of the development and its sensitive moorland hilltop location means that its operation continues to have an impact locally. The site could still benefit from mitigation and remediation measures, but these can only be identified after an environmental impact assessment has been done. Ireland must, therefore, ensure that this happens. The Court of Justice of the EU ruled on 3 July 2008, amongst others, that Ireland had failed to carry out an environmental impact assessment for the 70 turbine wind farm – the largest in Ireland, and, at the time of judgment, one of the largest in the EU. Its construction required the removal of large areas of forest and extraction of peat up to 5,5 metres deep on the top of the Cashlaundrumlahan Mountain, causing a 2 km environmentally devastating landslide in October 2003. The Commission is requesting the Court of Justice of the EU to impose a minimum lump sum payment of € 1 685 000.00 (€ 1 343.20 per day). The Commission is also proposing a daily penalty payment of €12 264.00, if full compliance is not achieved by the date when the Court issues its ruling. The final decision on the penalties rests with the Court of Justice of the EU. The final decision on the penalties rests with the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Commission refers PORTUGAL to Court over its failure to adequately protect natural habitats and species
The European Commission is referring Portugal to the Court of Justice of the EU for not designating Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) for the protection of natural habitats and species included in the Natura 2000 network and for failing to establish the necessary conservation measures for these sites. Portugal had to designate seven SACs in the Atlantic region by 7 December 2010 and 54 SACs in the Mediterranean region by 19 July 2012. Portugal has also failed to establish the necessary conservation measures to maintain or restore the protected habitats and species in these sites. The current measures adopted in the framework of the Portuguese Natura 2000 sectorial plan (PSRN2000) and the other sectorial and special plans (e. g. the rural development plans (PRODER) and the municipal plans) are not comprehensive and precise enough to allow for an adequate level of protection and SACs designation. As recognised by Portugal, the designation of the SACs requires a prior mapping of natural habitats and species as well as the adoption of management plans for each site. The Commission has repeatedly urged Portugal to fulfil its obligations. A letter of formal notice was sent in February 2015 and a reasoned opinion in May 2016. So far, Portugal has not been able to respect its own commitments for SACs designation, and establishment of conservation measures. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Environmental impact: Commission calls on BELGIUM and GREECE to fully enact new EU rules into national legislation
The European Commission urges Belgium and Greece to adapt their national legislations in order to take into account the modifications introduced by the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (Directive 2014/52/EU). The Directive aims to ensure that projects which are likely to have a significant effect on the environment are adequately assessed before they are approved. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Belgium and Greece in July 2017. Belgium's reply indicates that the missing provisions have not yet been fully incorporated. As regards Greece, legislation is currently being drafted in order to transpose the Directive in its entirety. Since Belgium and Greece have not yet fully enacted the EU rules into their national legislations, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion. Belgium and Greece have two months to comply with its obligations; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Water: Commission urges IRELAND to comply with EU water rules
The Commission requests Ireland to comply with the obligation to prepare a second round of the River Basin Management Plans under the Water Framework Directive(Directive 2000/60/EC). These Plans are meant to provide a comprehensive overview of the main issues for each river basin district and should include the specific measures needed to achieve set environmental quality objectives. So far, Ireland has not adopted, published or communicated to the Commission the review and update of its first River Basin Management Plans, due by 22 October 2015 for all the seven river basin districts. Consequently, the Commission sent Ireland a letter of formal notice in April 2017 and is now sending a reasoned opinion. Ireland 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.
Water: Commission requests SPAIN to respect the EU rules on extractive waste and water
The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Spain due to concerns for the handling of saline waste in Súria and Sallent.The Commission is of the opinion that regional authorities need to ensure that the extractive waste facilities fully comply with the Extractive Waste Directive (Directive 2006/21/EC), and to implement the necessary measures to improve water quality in the Llobregat River basin as required by the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC). The current situation continues to cause serious environmental problems resulting from potash extraction. The Spanish authorities have two months to reply. In case of an unsatisfactory response, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Water: Commission urges SWEDEN to modify its legislation on water
The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Sweden as there are still a number of instances of non-conformity and shortcomings in the Swedish transposition of the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC). These concern the failure to consider cost recovery for activities likely to have an impact on water quality. Moreover, the Swedish legislation currently does not consider that the obligations to avoid deterioration of water are relevant for the authorisation of projects, such as hydropower installations. Sweden is preparing new legislation on the latter point but has not adopted it yet. The Commission is, therefore, sending a reasoned opinion and giving Sweden two months to react. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Noise: Commission urges ITALY to adopt noise maps and action plans on environmental noise
The Commission calls on Italy to comply with the key provisions of the Noise Directive (Directive 2002/49/EC). Environmental noise – as caused by road, rail and airport traffic – is the second environmental cause for premature deaths after air pollution. The Directive requires Member States to adopt noise maps showing noise exposure within the bigger agglomerations, along main railways and roads and of major airports. These maps then are the basis for defining measures in noise action plans. In light of Italy's failure to communicate all information required by the European Commission, the Commission sent a first letter of formal notice in April 2013. In February 2016, the Commission sent an additional letter of formal notice due to the lack of progress. As strategic maps are still missing for 17 agglomerations and 22 roads whereas action plans still have to be adopted for 32 agglomerations, 858 roads and one major railway, the Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion. Italy has two months to respond to it; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Letters of formal notice
Biodiversity: EU urges 9 Member States to enact EU rules on utilisation of genetic resources
The Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, and Latvia. The Commission is in view that the 9 Member States have failed to designate competent authorities which are responsible for the application of EU rules for users from the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources (so-called 'EU Access and Benefit Sharing' Regulation (EU) No 511/2014). Each Member State should designate one or more competent authorities to be responsible for the application of this Regulation on access to genetic resources. Member States also must lay down effective, proportionate and dissuasive rules on penalties applicable to infringements of this Regulation. Global biodiversity is protected by the international Convention on Biological Diversity and its Nagoya Protocol. The Regulation aligns EU law with these international obligations. These EU rules also establish a framework for researchers and companies accessing and utilizing EU genetic resources and the traditional knowledge associated with them. As these Member States have not supplied information to the Commission on a number of implementing provisions, the Commission is sending them a letter of formal notice. They have two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.
Water: Commission calls on POLAND to comply with EU legislation for treating urban waste water
The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Poland requesting themto ensure that urban waste water is adequately collected and treated. The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Council Directive 91/271/EEC) requires Member States to ensure that all agglomerations, with a population of above 2,000 inhabitants, properly collect and treat their urban waste water. All Polish agglomerations should have been compliant by 31 December 2015. Despite Poland's efforts and EU financial support from Cohesion Policy, the compliance gap remains serious. Poland has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.
Environmental impact: Commission urges POLAND to fully comply with EU rules
The Commission is calling on Poland to comply with the EU legislation on the environmental impact assessment of certain public and private projects (Directive 2011/92/EU). The Directive provides for wide access to justice on environmental decisions, which are also subject to public participation. For certain projects, Poland does not allow environmental organisations to ask a court to grant interim relief or to challenge the final permit as regards its non-conformity with EU rules. Additionally, for certain infrastructure projects, such as road construction projects or airports, the effects of the judicial review are limited. The matter is known to the Polish authorities, which need to amend the domestic legislation transposing the Directive in order to solve the problem. However, since the matter remains unaddressed, the Commission is sending an additional letter of formal notice to the Polish authorities. Poland has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.
5. Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union
(For more information: Vanessa Mock – tel.: +32 229 56194, Letizia Lupini - tel.: +32 229 51958)
Financial services: Commission requests Member States to apply EU rules on financial markets
The European Commission requested today that Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden fully implement the revised Directive on Markets in Financial Instruments (MiFID II, Directive 2014/65/EU) into their national framework. The Directive, together with a Regulation (MiFIR, Regulation (EU) No 600/2014), was adopted in response to the financial crisis to help forge more transparent, competitive and integrated EU financial markets in order to ensure less trading outside regulated markets, higher protection for investors and consumers and, ultimately, to increase financial stability. The Directive harmonises the EU regulatory regime with respect to organisational requirements for investment firms, regulated markets, smaller and medium-sized enterprises' markets and data reporting services. It also establishes harmonised conduct of business rules for investment services, including inducements, disclosure requirements and product governance rules. Although the original deadline for the transposition of the Directive was extended by one year, from 3 July 2016 to 3 July 2017, the above-mentioned Member States have not fully or not at all implemented the rules into their national legislation. In this context, the Commission has also requested that Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain fully implement the Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2017/593 of 7 April 2016 supplementing Directive 2014/65/EU, or MiFID II) with regard to safeguarding of financial instruments and funds belonging to clients, product governance obligations and the rules applicable to the provision or reception of fees, commissions or any monetary or non-monetary benefits. If the measures to fully enact these Directives are not notified within two months, the Commission may decide to refer these Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Financial services: Commission calls on SPAIN to apply EU prudential rules for banks and investment firms
The European Commission requested today that Spain fully implement the Capital Requirements Directive (Directive 2013/36/EU). Together with the Capital Requirements Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 575/2013), the Directive sets out the prudential requirements for credit institutions and investment firms in the EU, laying down rules on the amount of capital that institutions must have in order to cover potential losses of the risks to which they are exposed. The Directive also formulates rules on the licensing and supervision of institutions, on supervisory cooperation, on risk management, on corporate governance (including remuneration) and on capital buffers. Member States had to transpose the Directive into national law by 31 December 2013. To date, Spain has not fully implemented these EU rules and some provisions are still missing from national law. Those refer mostly to the national competent authorities' discretions, administrative penalties or other measures applicable to institutions found liable of a serious breach in anti-money laundering. They also include whistle-blowing mechanisms, rules on the integrity and independence of the members of the management body. If the measures to fully enact this Directive are not notified within two months, the Commission may decide to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Financial services: Commission requests SPAIN to ensure proper application of EU rules for investment funds
The Commission has requested that Spain align its national law with European legislation on the Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) Directive (Directive 2014/91/EU). UCITS funds are investment vehicles, which are created with the sole purpose of gathering assets from investors to then re-invest those in a diversified pool of assets. The aim of the Directive is to provide common rules for the functioning of UCITS funds in the Member States. Therefore, the lack of proper implementation of this Directive risks diminishing investor protection in the retail investment fund market. In particular, the Commission requests that Spain put in place provisions clarifying remuneration policies for UCITS' fund managers and procedures related to infringements of rules laid down by the Directive. If the national authorities do not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Insurance: Commission closes 4 cases as Member States transpose rules on insurance and reinsurance
The European Commission welcomes the transposition of the national rules on the taking-up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance(Solvency II - Directive 2009/138/EU, and Omnibus II - Directive 2014/51/EU) by Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal and Latvia. Solvency II, a risk-based prudential framework for supervision of insurance and reinsurance companies, aims to protect policyholders and beneficiaries by ensuring the financial soundness of insurance companies. The Commission has decided today to close the infringement cases initiated for these Member States in May 2015.
Financial services: Commission closes case as POLAND transposes EU rules on alternative investment fund managers
The Commission welcomes Poland's transposition of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD, Directive 2011/61/EU). The Directive covers managers of alternative investment schemes designed for professional investors. Alternative investment funds include hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate funds and a wide range of other types of institutional funds. The Commission has decided today to close the infringement cases initiated against Poland in November 2014.
6. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
(For more information: Lucia Caudet – tel.: +32 229 56182, Maud Noyon – tel.: +32 229 80379)
Letters of formal notice
Public procurement: Commission calls on AUSTRIA to remove restrictions for economic operators to an effective legal review process
The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Austria regarding restrictions on economic operators to access an effective legal review process in public procurement cases. The current practices force companies in Lower Austria to consult the conciliation body before launching a request for a legal review against any decision taken by a contracting authority. The Austrian legislation also prevents the complainant from requesting any effective interim measures during the conciliation procedure, and allows the contracting authority to conclude the contract after four weeks even if no settlement has been reached. The Commission considers that these practices are contrary to the EU rules on application of review procedures to the award of public supply and contracts for public works (Remedies Directive, Council Directive 89/665/EEC). Austria now has two months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion to Austria.
Defence procurement: Commission opens infringement procedures against 5 Member States
Since the beginning of its mandate, the Juncker Commission is acting to build a strong Europe that can defend and protect its citizens at home and abroad - an ambition which cannot be achieved without pooling defence spending and strengthening the conditions for an open and competitive defence market in Europe. Against this backdrop, and as announced in the European Defence Action Plan, the Commission is ensuring the effective application of defence procurement rules to help companies operate across borders and help Member States get best value for money. The Commission decided today to send letters of formal notice to Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal for not applying – or doing so incorrectly – EU rules on public procurement in defence and security markets. The infringement procedures launched today concern: the direct award by Italy, Poland and Portugal of a number of defence contracts to national suppliers in breach of the Defence Procurement Directive. According to this Directive, contracting authorities are obliged to – except narrowly defined exceptions – award contracts by applying one of the procurement procedures laid down in Article 25 of Directive 2009/81/EC and make their intentions known by publishing a contract notice in the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) database. In the case of Denmark and the Netherlands, the Commission is concerned that the two countries have imposed unjustified offset requirements demanding compensation from non-national suppliers when purchasing defence equipment from them. Offset requirements are restrictive measures which hinder the free movement of goods and services and are incompatible both with the EU Treaty and with the correct transposition and application of the Directive. The Member States now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
7. Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality
(For more information: Christian Wigand – tel.: +32 229 62253, Melanie Voin - tel.: +32 229 58659)
Criminal justice: Commission urges 4 Member States to transpose the rules to facilitate the exchange of evidence within the EU
Today, the European Commission issued a reasoned opinion to Austria, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, and Spain for failing to transpose the EU rules on the European Investigation Order in criminal matters (Directive 2014/41/EU) into its national law. Based on mutual recognition, the Directive requires Member States to recognise and carry out the request for evidence from another Member State in the same way and under the same modalities as they would for a request coming from their national authority. This makes the fight against crime and terrorism much faster and efficient at European level. Member States had to implement EU rules on the European Investigation Order into their national legislation by 22 May 2017. The Commission had sent a letter of formal notice to these Member States in July 2017. If the concerned Member States fail to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Procedural rights: Commission calls on BULGARIA to implement EU legislation on the right of access to a lawyer
The Commission issued a reasoned opinion calling on Bulgaria to communicate information about how the Directive on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings (Directive 2013/48/EU) is being transposed into its national laws. In the EU, anyone suspected of a crime has a fundamental right to a fair trial and defence. The Directive on the right of access to a lawyer helps to ensure this fundamental right. The Directive had to be transposed into national law by 27 November 2016. The Commission had sent a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria in January 2017. To this day, Bulgaria has still not notified the Commission of any national rules which implement this EU law. Therefore, the Commission has decided to send Bulgaria a reasoned opinion. If Bulgaria fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Commission urges FINLAND to correctly implement EU rules on unfair commercial practices
The Commission is calling on Finland to take action swiftly to ensure that the EU legislation on unfair commercial practices (Directive 2005/29/EC) is correctly implemented in national law. The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive protects consumers from unfair commercial practices and ensures that they are not misled or exposed to aggressive marketing. With these rules, traders are held to high professional standards in their commercial practices towards consumers. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Finland in April 2014 and an additional one in March 2015 concerning several issues on the Directive. However, one issue remains. Presenting sponsored editorial content in the media without making it clear that a trader has paid for it should be clearly defined as a blacklisted practice. This is not the case in Finnish law, and Finland has not provided a satisfactory explanation for why this is omitted. Therefore, the Commission has decided to send Finland a reasoned opinion. If Finland does not act within the next two months, the Commission may take this matter to the Court of Justice.
Citizens' rights: Commission calls on LITHUANIA to ensure equal rights of EU citizens to join a political party
The Commission issued a reasoned opinion calling on Lithuania to ensure that national law respects the political rights of EU citizens. The Treaty of the Functioningof EU (Articles 20 and 22 ofTFEU) gives EU citizens the right to vote and stand as candidates in municipal and European Parliament elections in the EU country they are residing in under the same conditions as nationals of those Member States. The Lithuanian law currently does not allow citizens of other EU countries living in Lithuania to join a political party under the same conditions as Lithuanians. There is clear discrimination against non-national EU citizens, in particular those who have been resident for less than five years or whose residence has been interrupted. As part of efforts to promote EU citizenship rights, the Commission is calling on the Lithuanian authorities to take action and has decided to send Lithuania a reasoned opinion. If the Lithuanian authorities fail to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU. The Commission hopes that this issue can be solved before the next elections to the Municipal Councils which take place in February of 2019 in order to allow all EU citizens living in Lithuania to participate in the democratic life in Lithuania.
8. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172, Iris Petsa – tel.: +32 229 93321)
A reasoned opinion
Conservation of marine biological resources: Commission requests PORTUGAL to respect the exclusive competence of the EU under the Common Fisheries Policy
Today, the Commission decided to issue a reasoned opinion to Portugal on account of non-respect of the exclusive internal and external EU's competence for the conservation of marine biological resources. The EU has an exclusive competence in the area of the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy (Article 3 of Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, TFEU). The powers assigned to the EU on the internal level also give the EU exclusive competence to enter into international undertakings with other States and/or international organisations for the purposes of conserving marine biological resources. The demarches undertaken by Portugal towards the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) are in breach of the exclusive competence of the EU. They have been undertaken in the context of an already on-going process at NEAFC, initiated with the full support of the EU, which aims to prevent significant impacts of bottom fishing activities on vulnerable marine ecosystems. The Commission is of the opinion that such an approach breaches EU law. If Portugal does not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.
9. Mobility and Transport
(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172, Alexis Perier - tel.: +32 229 69143)
Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union
Sustainable transport: Commission refers MALTA and ROMANIA to the Court for not implementing EU rules on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure
The European Commission decided today to refer Malta and Romania to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to notify their national policy frameworks under Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure. The national policy frameworks are the main instrument to ensure the coordinated build-up of sufficient alternative fuels infrastructure, including recharging points for electric vehicles and refuelling points for natural gas and hydrogen. The establishment of those frameworks also helps to avoid a fragmentation of the internal market thanks to a coordinated introduction of alternative fuels. Member States were required to notify their national policy frameworks to the Commission by 18 November 2016. To date Malta and Romania have failed to do so despite a letter of formal notice and a reasoned opinion sent by the Commission on 15 February and 13 July 2017 respectively. Accelerating alternative fuels infrastructure deployment is essential to deliver a clean and competitive mobility to all Europeans, as announced by the Commission in the "Clean Mobility Package" adopted in November 2017. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Roadworthiness: Commission urges Member States to transpose new vehicle testing rules increasing road safety
The Commission requested today 6 Member States to fully transpose the 'Roadworthiness Package' adopted in 2014 and whose aim is to improve vehicle testing in EU, and, therefore, road safety. This package is made of three EU Directives which Member States were required to transpose by 20 May 2017. To date, however, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Romania and Slovakia have not – or only partially – done so. Firstly, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia have not adopted, published and communicated to the Commission the national measures transposing the updated rules on the periodical technical inspection of motor vehicles and their trailers (Directive 2014/45/EU). The Directive covers passenger cars, trucks, buses, heavy-trailers, motorcycles and speed tractors, and defines the items to be tested during the roadworthiness test, the tests methods, and the defects and their assessment. The Directive also introduces minimum requirements for the testing facilities, the training of inspectors and the supervising bodies.Secondly, Cyprus, Ireland, and Slovakia havenot adopted, published and communicated to the Commission national measures transposing the updated rules concerning the registration documents for vehicles (Directive 2014/46/EU). This Directive requires Member States to set up electronic vehicle registers with harmonised content, and it defines the procedure to be followed in case of a failed periodic roadworthiness test. Finally, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland and Slovakia havenot adopted, published and communicated to the Commission the national measures transposing the update regime for the technical roadside inspection of commercial vehicles (Directive 2014/47/EU). This Directive provides common rules for the technical roadside inspection of trucks, buses, heavy-trailers and speed tractors. The Commission sent these requests in the form of reasoned opinions. All Member States concerned now have two months to reply; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Road transport: Commission calls on 3 Member States to implement EU rules on the maximum weights and dimensions of certain road vehicles
The Commission today requested Cyprus, the Czech Republic, and Romania to communicate national measures implementing the updated European rules regarding the maximum weights and dimensions of certain road vehicles (Directive 2015/719/EU). These rules, which concern international traffic, play an important role for the functioning of the internal market and the free movement of goods in Europe. Among others, the Directive introduces derogations for heavy good vehicles with improved aerodynamic performance, or for those powered by alternative fuels. This provides incentives for using cleaner vehicles, which may be longer or heavier than conventional ones. This Directive should have been implemented by Member States by 7 May 2017. All Member States concerned now have two months to notify the Commission of all measures taken to ensure full implementation of the Directive. Otherwise, the Commission may refer these cases to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Letters of formal notice
Inland navigation: Commission calls on BELGIUM to comply with EU rules on chartering and pricing
The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Belgium for incompatibility of the national requirement regarding chartering and pricing in inland waterway transport with EU law (Council Directive 96/75/EC). The Directive establishes that contracts both in international and in national transport shall be freely concluded between the parties concerned and prices freely negotiated. Belgium now has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.
10. Taxation and Customs Union
(For more information: Vanessa Mock – tel.: +32 229 56194, Patrick Mc Cullough – tel.: +32 229 87183)
A reasoned opinion
Taxation: Commission requests ITALY to lift restrictions on the free movement of capital in relation to investments in real estate
The European Commission has decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Italy for excluding EU citizens of non-Italian nationality who do not intend to settle in Italy from a reduced rate regime on their first purchase of non-luxury housing on Italian soil. This limitation violates EU rules on the free movement of capital (Article 63 of TFEU) which guarantees the right to the free movement of capital in the EU. If Italy does not act within the next two months, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the Court of Justice of the EU.
A letter of formal notice
Taxation: Commission calls on the United Kingdom to align its national practices regarding the VAT Mini One-Stop-Shop scheme with EU rules
The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for failing to collect and transmit to other Member States the bank account details for each taxable person registered for the recently agreed, EU-wide system for VAT collection on online sales of e-services (VAT Mini One-Stop-Shop). This practice violates EU rules on administrative cooperation (Council Regulation 904/2010 and Commission Implementing Regulation 815/2012). At the moment, Member States who want to refund taxable persons in the UK have to collect additional information on a case-by-case basis, which delays refunds. If the United Kingdom does not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion to the UK authorities.
11. Principles of the Treaties
(For more information: Alexander Winterstein – tel.: +32 229 93265, Uldis Šalajevs – tel.: +32 229 67560)
A reasoned opinion
State liability: Commission urges SPAIN to comply with EU rules on the principles of equivalence and effectiveness
The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Spain as the Spanish rules are in breach of the principles of equivalence and/or effectiveness. The current national provisions on the legal regime and on the common administrative procedures for the public sector limit the procedural and substantive autonomy of the Member States with respect to the conditions governing the compensation for damages caused by legislative acts. 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. The Commission opened an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to the Spanish authorities in June 2017. Spain has two months to replyto the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.