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May 2017 infringements package: key decisions

17 May 2017
by eub2 -- last modified 17 May 2017

In its May 2017 monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission is pursuing legal action against EU Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law.


The key decisions taken by the Commission are presented below and grouped by policy area. The Commission is also closing 65 cases in which the issues with the Member States concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further.

In addition, the Commission decided to send a number of letters of formal notices. You will find the details in Part 2 below.

1. Education, Youth, Sport and Culture

A closure

Free movement of students: Commission closes infringement case against AUSTRIA

Commission endorses Austria's quota system for medical studies as necessary to protect the Austrian health care system, but asks Austria to end the quota imposed on dental studies. Today, the European Commission decided to close its longstanding infringement procedure against Austria regarding restrictions on access to medical and dental studies for students from other Member States, allowing Austria to maintain quotas for medical studies but not for dental studies.Based on the data provided by the Austrian authorities, the Commission has concluded that the quota system in place for medical studies is justified and proportionate in order to protect the Austrian public health system and can be maintained. The Commission, nevertheless, calls on Austria to continue monitoring the situation closely and to report to the Commission every five years on the necessity for maintaining the restrictions.On the other hand, the Commission concluded that the restrictions in place for dental studies were not justified as no shortage of dentists is likely in Austria. The infringement procedure is, therefore, closed with the proviso that these restrictions be removed in time for the 2019/2020 academic year. If these restrictions are not removed by then, the Commission reserves the right to pursue the infringement procedure.For more information, please refer to the full press release.

2. Environment

Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Waste: Commission refers ITALY to Court over failure to rehabilitate or close down 44 landfills

The Commission is taking Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU for its failure to rehabilitate or close down 44 landfills, which represent a serious risk for human health and the environment. Despite earlier warnings from the Commission, Italy has failed to take measures to rehabilitate or close down 44 non-compliant landfills, as required by article 14 of the Landfill Directive (Council Directive 1999/31/EC). Like other Member States, Italy was obliged, by 16 July 2009, to either rehabilitate landfills that had been granted a permit or which were already in operation before 16 July 2001 ("existing landfills"), bringing them to the safety standards set out in this Directive, or to close them. Due to insufficient progress in addressing the issue, the Commission sent an additional reasoned opinion in June 2015, urging Italy to adequately treat 50 sites, which still posed a threat to human health and the environment. In spite of some progress made, the necessary measures to upgrade or close 44 landfills have still not been completed by May 2017. In an effort to speed up the process, the Commission is taking Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Reasoned opinions

Urban waste water: Commission sends last warning to ITALY to ensure urban waste water is adequately collected and treated

May infringements package - Part 2: other letters of formal notice

In addition to key decisions set out in Part 1, the European Commission decided to send letters of formal notice for the following types of EU law infringements:

1. Energy

Third Energy Package: Commission calls on Estonia to implement two key Directives

The Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to Estonia formally requesting to ensure the correct implementation and application of the Electricity Directive (Directive 2009/72/EC) and the Gas Directive (Directive 2009/73/EC). The Directives are part of the Third Energy Package and contain key legal provisions which allow energy markets to function properly.

2. Environment

Commission calls on IRELAND to comply with reporting requirements under legislation on spatial data infrastructure (Directive 2007/2/EC)

EU rules on establishing an infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community ('INSPIRE'; Directive 2007/2/EC) aims to facilitate the access and use of spatial data related to the environment. This data needs to be shared between public authorities for all their tasks related to the environment. The Directive covers a wide range of spatial data ranging from basic mapping information, such as transport networks, to key environmental information such as emissions, environmental quality and location of protected sites. As Ireland has failed to submit the annual reports for 2014 and 2015 and the triannual report (due by May 2016 as required under the Directive), the Commission has decided to send a warning to Irish authorities it to comply with its reporting obligations.

Air noise (Directive 2002/49/EC): Commission urges POLAND and PORTUGAL to adopt measures on environmental noise

The European Commission calls on Poland and Portugal to establish the strategic noise maps and action plans as required under the EU rules (the Noise Directive, Directive 2002/49/EC) to decrease noise pollution in the EU. Both Poland and Portugal still have to adopt their (reviewed) noise maps and noise action plans for several agglomerations as well as noise action plans for major roads and railways, and Poland for the Warsaw airport. The Commission has, therefore, decided to send a letter of formal notice.

Waste: Commission urges 14 Member States to comply with reporting obligations under waste rules

The European Commission has opened infringement proceedings against 14 Member States (Cyprus, Romania, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Malta, Ireland, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia and Luxembourg) for their failure to report on the implementation of several EU waste rules. The proceedings opened today address missing reports on reaching targets on reuse, recycling and recovery under the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC), the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC), the Batteries Directive (Directive 2006/66/EC), the Packaging Directive (European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC) and Directive on End-of-Life Vehicles (Directive 2000/53/EC), and under the Waste Shipments Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006). The nature and type of the obligations vary from one Directive to another.

3. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Free movement of goods (Articles 35 and 36 TFEU):The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Belgium regarding the restrictions on the commercial registration plates for vehicles. These are usually issued to an enterprise or person in order to export cars to another Member State. Belgian law, however, restricts the use of commercial plates for export and obliges exporters to temporarily register vehicles in Belgium. The Commission considers that these Belgian rules infringe on the free movement of goods (Articles 35 and 36 TFEU).

Harmonised conditions (Regulation (EU) No 305/2011): The European Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to the Czech Republic for imposing additional requirements in the framework of tendering procedures for road safety barriers that are already CE-marked. The Commission considers that the additional requirements breach EU law by not complying with the Construction Products Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 305/2011).

Late payments (Directives 2000/35/EC and 2011/7/EU): Commission urges GREECE to comply with EU rules

The Commission decided today to send an additional letter of formal notice to Greece regarding their national rules on late payments, which the Commission considers breach EU Directives on combating late payments in commercial transactions (Directive 2000/35/EC as amended by Directive 2011/7/EU). The additional letter of formal notice takes into account recent jurisprudence regarding the right to seek judicial redress and rights to interest and compensation.

4. Taxation and Customs Union

Inheritance: Commission urges BELGIUM to comply with EU law on inheritance tax on immovable property

The Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Belgium formally requesting a change to the rules on inheritance tax in Wallonia. The Inheritance Tax Code applicable to the Walloon Region provides for an exemption from inheritance tax when the deceased individual was residing in Belgium. On the contrary, such exemption is not granted where the deceased person was living in another country within the European Economic Area. The Commission considers that the absence of an exemption for inheritance tax on immovable property located in Belgium and passed on by a deceased person who did not live there is contrary to Articles 45, 49 and 63 TFEU, given that such an exemption does indeed exist for a resident of Belgium.

For more information on the EU infringement procedure, see the full MEMO/12/12. For more detail on all decisions taken, consult the infringement decisions' register.

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