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Infringements day at the EC

Posted by Nick Prag at 26 February 2015, 18:05 CET |
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Wednesday was infringements day at the European Commission, a monthly occasion, when the Commission announces the various infringements proceedings it is setting in motion, and including legal actions it is taking against some Member States for failing to comply properly with their obligations under EU law.

This month, 276 decisions have been taken, including 44 'reasoned opinions' and 9 referrals to the European Union's Court of Justice. At the same time, the Commission closed a number of cases where issues with the Member States concerned were solved without a need to pursue the procedure further.

Member States have a responsibility for correct and timely application of EU Treaties and legislation. It is the Commission's task to monitor the correct application of Union law, and then to take action if a Member State either fails to incorporate EU directives into its national law and to report/communicate to the Commission what measures it has taken; or is suspected of breaching Union law.

The most serious cases end up with referrals to the European Court of Justice.

This month's cover a variety of sectors:

  • Denmark was referred to the ECJ for not “fully and correctly transposing European rules on rail safety”.
  • Austria and Luxembourg were referred for not complying with the EU Regulation establishing the rights of passengers travelling by bus and coach.
  • Portugal is alleged to have failed to amend registration tax for second-hand vehicles in compliance with EU law.
  • Germany for “limitation of VAT exemption granted to shared services”.

In addition, the Commission is taking

  • Greece to Court over poor waste water treatment presenting a risk to public health;
  • Italy for failing to meet its responsibilities adequately with regard to managing the recovery of the levy for overproduction of milk;
  • Germany for failure to remove trade barriers for pyrotechnic goods;
  • and Slovenia for failure to issue industrial permit for a major cement factory and asks for fines.

Few countries escape. Nor do many sectors.

But the Commission does not start these proceedings. The beginnings of an infringement procedure rests usually instituted with a complaint from a citizen or a business.

If you feel your rights under European law are not being respected, you can lodge a complaint with the Commission, which can then start an infringement procedures against the Member State concerned and, as a last resort, bring an action against it before the European Court of Justice. (See SOLVIT)

So the system is working as it should. The Commission is the guardian of EU law, and it has a duty to make sure it is being applied correctly in the Member States. It is exercising exercising a key duty, which is to ensure full and proper implementation of European legislation, for the benefit of citizens and businesses.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of EUbusiness.com. Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.