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 104 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 reasoned opinion and letters of formal notice
Nuclear safety: Commission calls on BELGIUM, POLAND and SPAIN to completely transpose EU nuclear safety rules
Today, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Belgium for not having notified transposition measures required under the Nuclear Safety Directive (Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom). The Directive further enhances the nuclear safety legal framework at EU level and introduces high-level EU-wide safety objectives to prevent accidents. The amending Nuclear Safety Directive was to be transposed by Member States by 15 August 2017. By that time, the Belgian authorities had not notified the Commission of their transposition measures and therefore received a letter of formal notice in December 2017. In February 2018, the Belgian authorities communicated a number of transposition measures. However, it follows from the Commission's analysis that Belgium has not notified any transposition measures corresponding to specific requirements laid down in the Directive. Belgium is given two months' time to reply to the reasoned opinion, as well as to adopt and communicate all the necessary measures to ensure full and correct transposition of the Directive, failing which the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU. In addition, Commission urges Poland and Spain to complete the transposition of this Directive and has decided to send letters of formal notice to the Polish and Spanish authorities. If Poland and Spain do not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion on this matter.
Letters of formal notice:
Nuclear waste: Commission calls on CROATIA, DENMARK, ESTONIA, IRELAND, LATVIA and MALTA to correctly transpose EU rules
Today, the Commission has decided to send letters of formal notice to Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia and Malta for failing to correctly transpose certain requirements of the Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Directive (Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom). The Directive establishes a Community framework for ensuring the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste to avoid imposing undue burdens on future generations. If the 6 Member States do not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion on this matter.
(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
Commission refers SPAIN to Court over waste management
Today, the European Commission decided to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to establish and, where applicable revise, waste management plans in accordance with the requirements on the EU rules for Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC) in four autonomous regions (Aragon, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and Madrid) and in the Autonomous City of Ceuta. Waste management plans are a key instrument to reduce the adverse impacts of the generation and management of waste on human health and the environment and to move towards the circular economy.
Spain had to establish the necessary Waste Management Plans to cover its whole territory by 12 December 2010, and to evaluate and revise those plans at least every six years. Moreover, Spain should have informed the Commission of the waste management plans, once adopted, and of any substantial revisions to the plans. The Commission has repeatedly called on Spain to fulfil its obligations: through a letter of formal notice in November 2016, followed by a reasoned opinion in July 2017. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
A reasoned opinion and a letter of formal notice:
Waste water: Commission urges CYPRUS, ESTONIA and ROMANIAto improve the treatment of urban waste water
The European Commission calls on Cyprus and Estonia to comply with EU law on urban waste water and ensure that waste water from towns and cities is properly treated. Under EU law (Council Directive 91/271/EEC), towns and cities are required to put in place the necessary infrastructure in order to collect and treat their urban waste water. Untreated waste water can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil and coastal and groundwater. Cyprus has failed to provide a collecting system for 36 agglomerations. In the same areas, the Cypriot authorities have also failed to ensure that the urban waste water entering collecting systems is subject to appropriate treatment. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice in July 2017. In Estonia, authorities still have to ensure proper urban waste water treatment in eight agglomerations. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice in December 2016. As in both compliance cases with EU rules is not expected in the near future, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion to Cyprus and Estonia to speed up their efforts. If the 2 countries fail to act within two months, the cases may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU. In addition, the Commission also decided todady to send a letter of formal notice to Romania for its failure to comply with EU rules on urban waste water treatment (Council Directive 91/271/EEC) in large urban areas (i.e. agglomerations. Following Romania's accession to the EU, large agglomerations should have ensured adequate collection of urban waste water by 31 December 2013 and treatment by 31 December 2015. However, according to the latest data provided by the Romanian authorities, 189 large agglomerations are still not in conformity with the urban waste water collection obligations under EU law, while 198 large agglomerations do not comply with treatment obligations. If Romania fails to act within two months, the cases may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
A reasoned opinion:
Air: Commission calls on FRANCE to enact EU rules on industrial emissions
The Commission urges France to fully enact EU legislation on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from medium combustion plants (Directive (EU) 2015/2193) into its domestic law. The Directive regulates emissions of SO2, NOx and dust into the air with the aim of reducing those emissions and the risks to human health and the environment they may cause. It also lays down rules to monitor emissions of carbon monoxide. Member States were required to send details about how the Directive is being enacted in their domestic law by 19 December 2017. After France missed the deadline, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice in January 2018. As France has still not communicated all the transposition measures, the Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion. France has two months to respond. In the absence of an adequate response, the Commission may refer France to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Letters of formal notice:
Waste: Commission urges SLOVENIA to comply with the Court ruling and close down the illegal landfill in Bukovžlak
The Commission decided today to call on Slovenia to fully comply with the ruling delivered by the Court of Justice of the EU of 16 July 2015 (case C‑140/14) and to rehabilitate an illegal landfill in Bukovžlak, Celje. Due to the presence of heavy metals, this landfill – composed of excavated polluted soil and industrial waste - represents a serious risk for human health and the environment. Three years after the Court judgment, Slovenia has not taken appropriate measures to rehabilitate or close down this landfill, as required by the Landfill Directive (Council Directive 1999/31/EC) and the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC). Slovenia has rehabilitated one of the two landfills concerned by the judgment by recovering 40 000 tonnes of hazardous waste dumped in an industrial site known as "Gaberje-South". The Commission is sending Slovenia a letter of formal notice before referring the case back to the Court, and calling for financial sanctions to be imposed. If Slovenia does not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion on this matter.
Waste: Commission urges SPAIN to comply with the Court ruling and ensure proper waste management
The Commission requests Spain to fully comply with the ruling delivered by the Court of Justice of the EU of 15 March 2017 (C-563/15). In this ruling, the Court found that Spain had breached its obligations under the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC) by not adopting the necessary measures for 61 landfills. The Spanish authorities had to ensure that waste management is carried out without endangering human health and without harming the environment. Despite some progress since the ruling, the closure, sealing and restoration works are still pending for 22 landfills (one in Andalusia; 19 in the Canary Islands and two in Murcia) for which significant delays are expected. More than a year after the Court's judgement, the ruling has still not been implemented in full by national authorities. This poses a risk to people's health and the environment. Therefore, the Commission is now sending a letter of formal notice to Spain before referring the case back to Court, and calling on for financial sanctions to be imposed. If Spain does not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion on this matter.
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 reasoned opinion:
Financial services: Commission requests GREECE to bring its law in line with EU rules on whistle-blowers
The Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Greece regarding their failure to implement EU rules on reporting possible infringements of the Market Abuse Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 596/2014). In 2015, the Commission adopted an Implementing Directive (2015/2392) as regards the reporting to competent authorities of actual or potential infringements of the market abuse legislation. This Directive is part of the Market Abuse rule book and requires Member States to establish effective mechanisms to enable the reporting of infringements of the market abuse rules. It contains provisions to protect those who report such infringements and further specifies procedures to protect whistle-blowers and reported persons, including follow-up arrangements on reports by whistle-blowers and protection of personal data. Member States had to enact the Commission Implementing Directive 2015/2392/EU (also known as the "whistle-blowing" directive) on EU Regulation 596/2014 into national law by 3 July 2016. Greece notified complete transposition of the Directive. However, during its assessment, the Commission found that some provisions have not been transposed into national law. Greece must respond to the reasoned opinion within two months. If no answer will be received or if Greece will not take any measures to transpose missing provisions, the case might be referred to the Court.
4. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
(For more information: Lucia Caudet – tel.: +32 229 56182, Maud Noyon– tel.: +32 229 80379)
Late payment: Commission requests ITALY to comply with EU rules on late payments
The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Italy because its national law does not comply with the Late Payment Directive (Directive 2011/7/EU). In April 2017, Italy made a number of amendments to the Italian Code of Public Contracts. One of the new provisions systematically extends the time for processing the payment of progress invoices in public works by 30 days. The Italian authorities argue this extra period is necessary to carry out verifications even when they have already been performed during different phases of the public works. By extending this period by additional 30 days, this provision appears to breach the Late Payment Directive. The Directive requires that payments by public authorities shall not exceed 30 or 60 days from the date of receipt of the invoice or, where applicable, when a procedure for verifying that the services have been correctly provided is completed. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Italy in July 2017 as part of the continued effort to ensure timely payments to the economic operators, often SMEs, and improve the implementation of the Directive across the EU. Italy now has two months to reply to the concerns raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU.
A letter of formal notice:
Public procurement: Commission urges SLOVAKIA to provide further information on software services contract
The Commission decided today to send an additional letter of formal notice to Slovakia regarding the direct award of a software services contract. The contract was awarded directly to the same operator that already provides software services for the contracting authority. Slovak authorities have argued that the new contract was an extension of the earlier contract and that the direct award was justified by reasons connected to the protection of exclusive rights. The Commission is of the view that any exemptions from the usual transparent and competitive procurement procedures can only be justified in exceptional circumstances. In this context, Slovakia has not demonstrated that the exclusive rights held by the current service provider were essential for the new contract and necessitate an exceptional direct award. The Commission thus consider that Slovakia breached EU public procurement rules (Directive 2004/18/EC). If Slovakia does not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion on this matter.
5. Mobility and Transport
(For more information: Enrico Brivio – tel.: +32 229 56172, Alexis Perier - tel.: +32 229 69143)
Letters of formal notice
Sustainable transport: Commission calls on 3 Member States to fully implement EU rules on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure
The Commission decided today to request Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg to fully transpose into national law the European rules on alternative fuels infrastructure (Directive 2014/94/EU). These rules, which concern inter alia harmonised standards for alternative fuels infrastructure and basic provisions to enable electric mobility, play an important role for the functioning of the EU internal market. They also aim to reduce the dependence of transport on oil and to mitigate its environmental impact. The Directive should have been implemented by Member States by 18 November 2016. All Member States concerned now have two months to ensure full implementation of the Directive; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion. In 2017, the Commission had already called on 21 other Member States to implement the same Directive without delay.
Road safety: Commission urges SPAIN to fully deploy the eCall emergency call centres infrastructure
The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Spain for not having fully deployed the emergency call centres infrastructure necessary to receive and handle the 112 eCalls as required by EU rules (Directive 2010/40/EU). The eCall system automatically dials Europe's single emergency number 112 in the event of a serious road accident and communicates by use of Europe's satellite navigation system Galileo the vehicle's location to the emergency services. It is estimated that eCall will cut response time by up to 40-50%, thereby saving hundreds of lives every year. The Spanish authorities now have two months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission; the Commission may otherwise decide to send a reasoned opinion.
Intelligent Transport Systems: Commission calls on 6 Member States to report on their progress
The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Slovenia for failing to fulfil their obligations under EU legislation on the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) (Directive 2010/40/EU). According to the Directive, Member States shall report every three years to the Commission on the progress made in the deployment of national actions and activities as well as projects regarding the priority areas of the ITS Directive. The 6 Member States now have two months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission; the Commission may otherwise decide to send a reasoned opinion.
6. 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 AUSTRIA to amend its VAT scheme for travel agents
The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Austria for excluding from the special VAT scheme for travel agents sales of travel services to other taxable persons who use them for business purposes. The Special VAT scheme for travel agents aims to tax them only on the profits they make by supplying a travel package. In return, however, they are not allowed to deduct VAT on goods or services they buy from other businesses. Austria also infringes on this provision (VAT Directive, Council Directive 2006/112/EC) by calculating the VAT of travel agents on an overall turnover within a tax period, while EU case law (Commission vs Spain, case C-189/11) clearly states that the taxable amount must be defined in terms of an individual sale, and not on a group of sales. This represents a distortion of competition as travel agents from Austria can currently offer their services at more advantageous conditions to business clients in other Member States than travel agents from other Member States. If Austria does not act within the next two months, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the Court of Justice of the EU.
Reasoned opinions and closures:
Taxation: Commission calls on 5 Member States to transpose new transparency rules and closes case for BULGARIA
The European Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg and Romania for their failure to communicate the transposition of new measures on mandatory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation as regards Member State tax authorities' access to anti-money-laundering information (Council Directive (EU) 2016/2258). Member States were supposed to transpose these measures by 31 December 2017. The new rules are designed to give tax authorities much-needed access to anti-money laundering information and enable them to react quickly and efficiently to cases of tax evasion. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer these countries to the Court of Justice of the EU. In the meantime, the Commission has also welcomed the transposition of the same measures by Bulgaria and decided today to close the respective infringement case.
Letters of formal notice:
Taxation: Commission calls on the CZECH REPUBLIC to correctly transpose new transparency rules for the exchange of information
The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to the Czech Republic for failing to implement correctly EU rules on mandatory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation (Council Directive 2014/107/EU). Under EU law, financial income, including dividends, capital gains and account balances, are subject to automatic information exchange between Member States. If the Czech Republic does not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion to the Czech authorities.
Taxation: Commission requests LATVIA to align its rules regarding the VAT reverse charge mechanism
The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Latvia in relation to its recent legislation allowing the application of a VAT reverse charge on sales of construction products, consumer electronics and electrical household appliances between businesses. This legislation violates EU VAT rules (VAT Directive, Council Directive 2006/112/EC), which allows the reverse charge mechanism only when it is specifically targeted and used only for exhaustively listed products. If Latvia does not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion to the Latvian authorities.
Taxation: Commission closes case for PORTUGAL
The Commission welcomes the new legislation which allows Portugal to align its exit tax rules as required by a judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU of 21 December 2016 (case C-503/14). The new rules introduce, among other things, an option for the taxpayer to stagger the taxation of capital gains upon emigration over a period of five years. In 2014, the Commission referred Portugal to Court because its legislation discriminated against taxpayers, which cease to be tax residents in that country. Today, the Commission decided to close that infringement case.