Midday Express of 2009-06-25
European Commission - MEX/09/0625 25/06/2009
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EXME09 / 25.06
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
25 / 06 / 09
The European Commission has decided to bring Greece before the European Court of Justice on the basis of Article 228 of the EC Treaty. The Hellenic Republic has failed to take steps to comply with the Court's judgment of 18 December 2007 in Case C-481/06 on the conformity of Greek legislation, which allows a negotiated procedure to be used without a prior call for tenders for public contracts for the supply of certain types of medical equipment.
The European Commission has decided to send a formal request to the United Kingdom concerning the award of a public works concession contract by the City of York Council relating to the residential development of a piece of land known as "Osbaldwick". This formal request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion", the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has formally requested Greece to amend its legislation requiring qualified EU teachers to have an excellent knowledge of the Greek language. This request takes the form of a reasoned opinion, the second phase of the infringement procedure as laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has decided to take action to ensure that the Internal Market principles of free movement of services and freedom of establishment are respected in Greece and Germany. The Commission has decided to send formal requests to Greece concerning its rules on the establishment of service stations and to Germany concerning its requirements for actions relating to trademarks and patents. These formal requests take the form of ‘reasoned opinions’, the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. The Commission has also decided to send an official request for information to Germany concerning legislation that may restrict the establishment of retail facilities. This formal request takes the form of a ‘letter of formal notice’, the first stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may proceed to a ‘reasoned opinion’. Finally, the Commission has decided to close infringement proceedings against Austria in relation to restrictions on the free movement of bovine artificial insemination services.
The European Commission has decided to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice over the exemption of the Irish Voluntary Health Insurance Board (VHI) from certain EU rules on non-life insurance. The referral follows the "complementary reasoned opinion" sent to Ireland in November 2008 (IP/08/1787), which requested Ireland once again to establish compliance with EU law. This follows a complaint to the Commission alleging that the VHI is unlawfully pursuing insurance activities without being subject to the First Non-Life Insurance Directive in particular.
The European Commission has decided to refer Austria, Ireland Italy and Spain to the European Court of Justice over non-implementation into national law of the Statutory Audit Directive. The Commission has also decided to send formal requests to Belgium, Ireland, Greece, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal as they have failed to fully implement into their national laws the latest Directive in the field of accounting within the prescribed deadline. These formal requests take the form of "reasoned opinions", the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has decided to refer the Czech Republic to the European Court of Justice and to send a formal request to Luxembourg over failure to implement into national law Directives in the area of company law and corporate governance. This formal request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion", the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. The Commission has also decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send France a letter of formal notice requesting full information on its implementation of a 2009 Court judgment concerning a Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications.
The European Commission today closed three infringement proceedings against Poland after the country took steps at national level to correct the problems and bring Polish law into line with EU telecoms rules. The cases concern the independence of the Polish regulator, consumer contracts, and the obligation for operators to negotiate interconnection. The Commission is still analysing other parts of the amendments made by the Polish government to national telecoms laws.
Portugal must speed up delivery of comprehensive telephone directory and directory enquiry services, as required by EU telecoms rules, says the European Commission. In March 2009, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) called on Portugal to ensure that Portuguese consumers could rely on directory and directory enquiry services including the data of all telephone users that want to be listed. Today, the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Portugal asking it to comply with the judgement, Otherwise, Portugal could be fined if the case proceeds to the ECJ again.
The Commission today opened an infringement procedure against Germany because the country's national regulator - the Bundesnetzagentur - did not consult the Commission and other national regulators prior to deciding on new levels of mobile termination rates. Termination rates are wholesale fees charged by operators to connect calls from one network to another operator's network. Contrary to Germany's obligations under EU telecoms rules, the Bundesnetzagentur's final decisions on mobile termination rates were adopted on 31 March 2009 before the Commission and other national regulators had the possibility to comment on the level of these rates. This lack of transparency is a first in the application of EU telecoms rules in the 27 EU Member States. Without prior consultation of other regulators, there is an increased risk that the regulatory approach to termination rates will differ among Member States and distort competition in the EU's single telecoms market. Already today, termination rates, and the methodology used to set them, vary widely across the EU. The Commission has therefore called for them to be better coordinated (see IP/09/710).
The European Commission today launched legal action against Latvia over the administrative charges levied by the “Electronic Communications Office” (Elektronisko sakaru direkcija (ESD)), one of Latvia’s national telecoms regulators. The Commission is concerned that the administrative charges collected from companies for controlling the usage of the radio spectrum are not imposed in an objective, transparent and proportionate way. The Commission therefore has decided to send a letter of formal notice, the first step in an infringement proceeding, to the Latvian authorities.
The location of people calling the single European emergency number 112 from their mobile phones in Lithuania is still not always available to emergency services, despite the European Court of Justice deciding, in its judgement last September that Lithuania is required under EU telecoms rules to make this happen. The European Commission therefore decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Lithuania calling on it to comply with the judgement by ensuring that caller location information is available to emergency services for all mobile calls to 112. Lithuania could be fined if the case proceeds to the European Court of Justice again. Caller location allows emergency services to pinpoint the location of 112 callers even if the caller cannot, making it much easier to respond to emergencies.
Today the European Commission stepped up legal action against Poland for wrongly transposing EU rules on the re-use of public sector information (PSI) into Polish law. Polish legislation does not contain crucial provisions of the EU's 2003 PSI Directive, including obligations on non discrimination and prohibition of exclusive agreements. As a result, wrong transposition prevents reusers to know the full extent of their rights established by the Directive and to rely on them before the national courts. In its reasoned opinion, the second step in the infringement procedure, the Commission asks Poland to take the necessary steps to comply with the EU rules on PSI within two months. If Poland does not comply with the PSI Directive within this time limit, the Commission can refer the case to the Court of Justice.
The Commission has requested information from Romania as regards its legislation on the application of a pollution tax on passenger cars. The Commission is of the opinion that the provisions of the Romanian legislation, according to which the application of the pollution tax for certain motor vehicles is suspended while it is increased for certain used cars coming from other Member States, might discriminate against used cars brought from other Member States and protect the domestic new car industry. The request takes a form of "a letter of formal notice" - the first stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If the Commission does not receive a satisfactory response within two months, it may proceed with the second stage of the procedure (to issue a reasoned opinion) and ultimately bring the case before the Court of Justice.
The European Commission has decided to refer Luxembourg to the European Court of Justice over its incorrect application of certain provisions of the Savings Tax Directive as regards interest payments made to beneficial owners who benefit from so-called "non-domiciled resident" status in their country of residence .
La Commission européenne adresse un deuxième avertissement écrit à la Belgique pour infraction à la législation communautaire relative au traitement des eaux urbaines résiduaires. En 2004, la Cour de justice des Communautés européennes avait estimé qu'aucune des régions belges ne disposait de systèmes de collecte et de traitement des eaux urbaines résiduaires suffisants. Ce deuxième avertissement fait suite à l’avertissement qui a été adressé à la Belgique au mois de janvier 2006. Si la réponse de la Belgique n’est pas satisfaisante, la Commission pourra demander que la Cour inflige des amendes à cet État membre.
The European Commission has formally requested Portugal to change its law since it is of the opinion that Portugal does not apply a flat rate scheme for farmers consistent with the objectives of the scheme which is laid down in the VAT Directive. As a result farmers opting for the flat rate scheme may face financial disadvantages. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (second step of the infringement procedure provided for in article 226 of the EC Treaty). If the relevant national legislation is not amended in order to comply with the respective reasoned opinion, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has formally requested the United Kingdom to amend its legislation governing the VAT exemption for transactions related to aircraft, since it is based on criteria different from, and inconsistent with, those employed in the VAT Directive. The request is communicated in the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’ (second step of the infringement procedure provided for in Article 226 of the EC Treaty). If, within two months, the relevant national rules are not amended in order to comply with the reasoned opinion, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has sent Belgium a formal request to amend its legislation which leads to different taxation of interest depending on where the bank paying such interest is established. According to the Belgian legislation, interest paid by Belgian banks to individuals is exempted from tax up to the amount of € 1660 whereas interest paid by foreign banks cannot benefit from the same exemption. The Commission's request takes the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’ (second step of the infringement procedure of Article 226 of the EC Treaty). If Belgium does not reply satisfactorily to the reasoned opinion within two months the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has sent Finland and Denmark formal requests to amend their legislation which leads to discriminatory taxation of foreign pension funds. The Commission's requests take the form of a ‘reasoned opinion’ (second step of the infringement procedure of Article 226 of the EC Treaty). If Finland and Denmark do not reply satisfactorily to these reasoned opinions within two months the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has formally requested Spain to change its tax provisions concerning the taxation of capital gains arising from an exchange of shares. The Commission considers some of these provisions to be incompatible with the "Merger" Directive (Council Directive 90/434/EEC) and with the freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital as laid down in Articles 43 and 56 of the EC Treaty and the corresponding articles of the EEA Agreement. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (second step of the infringement procedure provided for in Article 226 of the EC Treaty). If there is no satisfactory reaction to the reasoned opinion within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Communities.
The Commission decided today to ask the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to impose a periodic penalty payment and a lump sum on the Hellenic Republic which failed to comply with the ruling of the ECJ on 18 July 2007 in Case C-26/07, Commission v. Hellenic Republic. The judgment of the Court had stated that the Hellenic Republic failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 18 of Directive 2004/80/EC relating to compensation to crime victims which requested Member States to notify to the Commission national measures for the implementation of the Directive.
Mariann Fischer Boel, the European Commissioner for agriculture and rural development is today announcing the three winners of the ‘Milk Power!’ competition during a visit to a school in Paris. This competition is part of the ‘Milk – Drink it up!’ European campaign, which aims to inform Europeans about the benefits of milk and dairy products as a healthy alternative to junk food and drinks.
The European Commission today set out plans to finance the demonstration of carbon capture and geological storage (CCS) in cooperation with China. This comes in the context of a commitment made by the EU and China to develop and demonstrate in China and the EU advanced, near-zero emissions coal technology through carbon capture and storage by 2020. CCS is an important technology in the fight against climate change and has the potential to cut emissions from power generation in fast-developing and coal-dependent emerging economies, such as China.
La Commission européenne a adopté aujourd'hui des avis motivés à l’encontre de trois États membres de l’Union européenne qui n'ont pas encore notifié les mesures de transposition en droit national d'une directive communautaire relative au permis de conduire.
La Commission européenne a envoyé aujourd’hui un avis motivé – la dernière étape avant une éventuelle saisine de la Cour de justice – à la Slovaquie pour ne pas avoir transposé correctement une directive communautaire dans le domaine de la sécurité maritime. La Directive en question établit les règles communes concernant les organismes habilités à effectuer l'inspection et la visite des navires.
La Commission européenne engage des poursuites judiciaires contre la Grèce parce que cet État membre n'a pas mis en place les mesures adéquates pour protéger l'une des zones humides les plus importantes d'Europe. L'affaire concerne la pollution et la dégradation du lac Koroneia, dans la région de Thessalonique. Un premier avertissement est envoyé à la Grèce pour manquement à l'obligation de mettre en œuvre le cadre juridique nécessaire pour assurer la protection et la conservation du site.
Danuta Hübner, Commissaire européenne à la politique régionale, sera en visite le 26 juin dans la région Limousin. La Commissaire rencontrera Mme Evelyne Ratte, le Préfet du Limousin, M. Jean-Paul Denanot, le Président de la Région, ainsi que M. Alain Rodet, le Député-Maire de Limoges. Elle découvrira comment la région a choisi d'orienter les investissements européens vers l'innovation, en particulier dans le domaine de la céramique qui a fait sa réputation.
The European Commission has addressed formal requests under the EC Treaty infringements procedure to Belgium and the United Kingdom to communicate measures implementing the Commission Directive 2005/81/EC amending the Directive on the transparency of financial relations between Member States and public undertakings (80/723/EEC - see IP/00/763). Member States were required to implement the Directive in national law by 19 December 2006. The requests take the form of "reasoned opinions", the second step in infringement procedures under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. Belgium and the UK now have two months to notify to the Commission the measures they have taken to implement the Directive. Failing this, the Commission may refer them to the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has decided to refer Italy to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failure to implement a 2004 ruling by the Court of Justice (case C-99/02) confirming a Commission decision of 1999 finding that Italy had granted illegal and incompatible aid and ordering its recovery. The illegal aid in question took the form of exemptions from social security contributions in cases where companies could not prove that new jobs had been created or prove that the workers hired had special difficulties entering or re-entering the employment market. Although over five years have elapsed since this judgement, Italy has still only recovered a small part of the overall aid amount estimated at about 281 million euros. The Commission therefore now requests the ECJ to impose fines on Italy under Article 228 of the EC Treaty.
Today the European Commission sent letters of formal notice to the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and Slovenia for inadequate transposition of Directive 1999/44/EC on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees into their national law, since it has concerns that their national laws may not be sufficient to implement the Directive.
The Commission has today sent a reasoned opinion to Latvia on its implementation of EU rules prohibiting discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of sex (2002/73/EC). The Latvian authorities have two months to respond. If they fail to reply or if the response is unsatisfactory, the Commission may decide to take the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) (see also MEMO/08/742).
The European Commission has decided to take legal action against Italy for failure to comply with a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on differences in the pension age for male and female civil servants. It will send Italy a "letter of formal notice" under Article 228 EC over the country's failure to follow a Court ruling last year that current Italian provisions violate the principle of equal pay for men and women.
The Commission has taken firm action today against 25 Member States who prevent European consumers benefiting from the advantages of a competitive and open Energy Market by not complying with EU legislation. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom will be receiving letters of formal notice for not complying with applicable gas and electricity regulations. The Commission has also sent letters of formal notice to Greece, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Lithuania for maintaining a system of regulated prices in violation of the EU directives on electricity and gas.
The Commission has today referred Estonia to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for non-transposition of EU rules prohibiting gender discrimination in access to and supply of goods and services (Directive 2004/113/EC). Estonia has not yet adopted all the necessary measures to give effect to the legislation in national law, despite a 'reasoned opinion' (second stage warning) sent by the Commission in February 2009.
The Commission has today sent reasoned opinions to nine Member States for failing to communicate national measures to transpose Directive 2005/47/EC on working conditions in the international rail sector. The countries concerned are Portugal, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg and France. They now have two months to respond.
President Barroso and Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs have welcomed today's adoption of new rules on the internal energy market by the Council following a positive vote by the European Parliament in April. The new legislation is expected to strengthen the EU's internal energy market, give consumers more protection and the benefit of the lowest possible energy prices while offering companies the chance to compete on a level playing field. In addition the legislative package will promote sustainability by stimulating energy efficiency. Member States now have 18 months to transpose the new rules into national law.
Today's adoption by the Council of the Nuclear Safety Directive is a major step for achieving a common legal framework and a strong safety culture in Europe. The EU has thus become the first major regional nuclear actor to provide binding legal force to the main international nuclear safety standards, namely the Safety Fundamentals established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the obligations resulting from the Convention on Nuclear Safety . The Directive also reinforces the independence and resources of the national competent regulatory authorities.
The European Commission today said Lithuania is failing to put in place EU rules that guarantee the independence of national telecoms regulators. It stepped up legal action by deciding to send a reasoned opinion (the second phase of an infringement proceeding). The Commission wants a distinct separation between those making the rules and owners or providers of telecoms services. The Commission started legal action by sending a letter of formal notice in September 2008 (IP/08/1343). However, the Lithuanian authorities did not address the Commission's concerns in their response. For this reason the Commission is now launching the second phase of the infringement proceeding.
Based on first preliminary estimates for 2008, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per inhabitant expressed in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) varied from 40% to 253% of the EU27 average across the Member States. In France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus, GDP per inhabitant was within 10% of the EU27 average. Austria, Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Finland, Germany and Belgium were between 10% and 30% above the average, while the highest levels of GDP per inhabitant in the EU27 were recorded in Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands. Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia were between 10% and 30% lower than the EU27 average. Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Latvia were between 30% and 50% lower, while Romania and Bulgaria were between 50% and 60% below the EU27 average. These figures for GDP per inhabitant, expressed in PPS, are published by Eurostat. They cover the 27 EU Member States, the three candidate countries, three EFTA Member States and four Western Balkan countries.
In April 2009 compared with March 2009, the euro area (EA16) industrial new orders index fell by 1.0%. In March the index decreased by 0.2%. In the EU271 new orders declined by 0.5% in April 2009, after dropping by 0.5% in March. Excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment, for which changes tend to be more volatile, industrial new orders decreased by 0.9% in the euro area, but increased by 0.3% in the EU27. In April 2009 compared with April 2008, industrial new orders decreased by 35.5% in the euro area and by 35.0% in the EU27. Total industry excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment dropped by 35.3% in the euro area and by 33.8% in the EU27. These estimates are released by Eurostat.
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Hulu LLC of the US by General Electric (GE), News Corporation (NewsCorp) and The Walt Disney Company (Disney), all of the US. GE is active in infrastructure, industrial products, finance, healthcare, media and entertaining. NewsCorp is active in entertainment, television, newspapers, magazines and book publishing. Disney is an entertainment and media company. Hulu broadcasts TV and film entertainment over the internet. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, a six month prolongation of a Spanish guarantee scheme for credit institutions. The Commission found the prolongation of the measures, initially approved on 23 December 2008 (see IP/08/2049), to be in line with its Communication on state aid to overcome the financial crisis (see IP/08/1495). In particular, the extended measures are limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Spanish economy and as such are compatible with Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty.
László Kovács, the Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs said: "I welcome today's agreement which waives the obligation for traders to provide customs with advance electronic information for security purposes in bilateral trade between Switzerland and the EU. With an average of 23.000 lorries and 4.400 train wagons per day crossing our common borders, we both have a strong mutual interest in implementing equivalent customs security measures in order to increase security for our citizens while not disrupting trade." The agreement therefore foresees that, Switzerland will implement in its trade with third countries customs security measures that are equivalent to those applied by the EU. This implies mutual recognition of systems of risk analysis and management and of systems to facilitate reliable traders (the so-called EU AEO certificate). This will ensure both smooth trade flows between Switzerland and the EU and a high level of security of the supply chain. The agreement will enter into force on 1 July 2009. Further information on the agreement can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/common/legislation/proposals/customs/index_en.htm Further information on the security aspects of the Customs Code can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/policy_issues/customs_security/index_en.htm
Today, Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will visit Noord-Holland, the Netherlands, and attend a conference on "Sustainable Innovation for the North Sea Region", organised by the North Sea Commission of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR). Ahead of his visit, Mr Borg said, "As the Noord-Holland province is surrounded by water, it is an ideal setting for discussing coastal and maritime affairs. Noord-Holland and its stakeholders share unique insight and know-how and are ideally placed to contribute to integrated policy-making at regional and national level alike. Moreover, the CPMR has been a consistent supporter of the European Union's Integrated Maritime Policy, while the North Sea Commission is one of its bodies whose valuable work on projects has helped put that policy into practice". In his address to the conference, Commissioner Borg will point to integrated coastal zone management and maritime spatial planning, a key tool developed under the European Union's Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP). Both can be used as means of delivering coherent and integrated governance, planning and climate change mitigation in coastal areas particularly in places such as the North Sea region, which has in fact been exploring spatial planning and co-operation for some time now. He will also advocate customised sea-basin strategies under the IMP umbrella as a means of stimulating growth and jobs, while simultaneously triggering profound improvements in environmental sustainability.
The European Commission has sent "Reasoned Opinions" to the governments of Czech Republic and Poland over their failure to notify national implementing measures as required by Directive 2007/72/EC. This Directive amends Council Directive 66/401/EEC as regards the inclusion of the species "Galega orientalis Lam." on the marketing of fodder plant seed. The sending of a "Reasoned Opinion" is the second step in infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If the Member States concerned are not able to assure the Commission that this Directive is in fact transposed under their national law, the next step will be for the Commission to lodge cases against them with the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has sent "Reasoned Opinions" to the governments of Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Finland and United Kingdom over their failure to notify national implementing measures as required by Directive 2008/109/EC. This Directive lays down protective measures against the introduction into the Community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products, and against their spread within the Community. The sending of a "Reasoned Opinion" is the second step in infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If the Member States concerned are not able to assure the Commission that this Directive is in fact transposed under their national law, the next step will be for the Commission to lodge cases against them with the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has decided to refer Belgium, Austria and Portugal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over their failure to notify national implementing measures as required by Commission Directive 2008/53/EC. This Directive amends the list of aquatic animal diseases, established by Council Directive 2006/88/EC, which lays down animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products. Member States were obliged to implement the Directive by 1 August 2008. In February 2009 the Commission sent "Reasoned Opinions" to five Member States that had still not notified it of the measures taken under their national law to implement the Directive. Three of them, Belgium, Austria and Portugal, still haven't taken any measures to implement the Directive. An ECJ judgement against the Member States will oblige them to take action or risk financial penalties.
The European Commission decided today to further pursue an infringement procedure against Sweden, that has not complied with the provisions of Commission Decision 96/78/EC laying down common zootechnical criteria for access to stud-book for equidae (horses, donkeys and other members of the "equine" family). In 2008 the Commission, following an assessment, determined that rules promulgated by the entity in charge of maintaining stud-books for the breed called "Swedish trotters", are incompatible with EU legislation. The rules are incompatible because the conditions for access to this stud-book are not laid down on the basis of the merit and the breeding value of the individual horses. Notably, some of the current rules discriminate against horses born in other Member States. As the Commission has not received any amended version or draft of these rules, it has decided to send a Reasoned Opinion to Sweden in order to achieve compliance with EU law.
The European Commission has decided to refer Spain to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over the incorrect transposition of Community legislation on plant protection products with regard to data protection. Directive 91/414/EEC concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market provides that a plant protection product may only be placed on the market and used if it is authorised by the competent authorities of a Member State. These authorities grant authorisations on the basis of a dossier submitted by the applicant. As the preparation of studies for such dossier is expensive, Article 13 of the Directive provides for a data protection period of 5 or 10 years. During that period other applicants wishing to obtain an authorisation have to duplicate the protected studies or to reach an agreement with the owner of the studies on their use. The Spanish legislation goes beyond the provisions of Directive 91/414/EEC by allowing national authorities to use studies that are protected without the agreement of the first applicant. As a result, the Spanish legislation is incompatible with the above Directive. Since Spain did not amend its legislation, the Commission decided to refer the case to the ECJ. The referral of the infringement case to the Court may lead to a declaration that the Member State concerned has failed to fulfil an obligation under the EC Treaty and, at a later stage, if the infringement persists, to condemning the Member State to pay a lump sum and/or financial penalty.
The European Commission decided today to address a reasoned opinion to the United Kingdom because it considers that current UK rules on food irradiation are incompatible with Directive 1999/2/EC on the approximation of the laws of Member States concerning food and food ingredients treated with ionising radiation in that they authorise national authorities to recognise food irradiation facilities in third countries. According to Directive 1999/2/EC one of the conditions for importing a foodstuff treated with ionising radiation from a third country is that it was treated in an irradiation facility approved by the Community. The Commission recognises that the United Kingdom has so far not used this possibility and is in the process of amending its legislation in the field of food irradiation. However, since a letter of formal notice was sent already in March 2007 and since there have been considerable delays in the process leading to the adoption of new regulations in the UK, it was necessary to issue a reasoned opinion to ensure expedited compliance.
The European Commission today decided to send a 'Letter of Formal Notice' to Germany for failure to publish the details of all beneficiaries of the Common Agricultural Policy. Under EU law, details on all recipients had to be published on the internet by 30th April 2009. Earlier this month, the Federal Government announced that the data were finally available online, but the Land of Bavaria has decided not to publish. In these circumstances, the Commission has no choice but to start an infringement procedure against Germany. A Letter of Formal Notice is the first step in infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. Germany has one month to respond to the letter. If the Commission is still not satisfied after this first step, it will send a 'Reasoned Opinion'. If Germany still proved unable to ensure the full implementation of the Regulation, the next step would be for the Commission to lodge proceedings against it with the European Court of Justice.
• Memo Questions and Answers on the Communication on Demonstrating Carbon Capture and Geological Storage (CCS) in emerging developing countries: financing the EU-China Near Zero Emissions Coal Plant project
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