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May 2018 infringements package: key decisions

17 May 2018
by eub2 -- last modified 17 May 2018

In its May 2018 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.


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

1. Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Reasoned opinions

Working conditions: Commission urges ITALY and PORTUGAL to notify the transposition of EU rules on the working conditions of seafarers

Today, the Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Italy and Portugal, urging both countries to notify the national measures transposing the EU rules ensuring the right of seafarers to fair and just working conditions as well as their right to information and consultation (Directive 2015/1794/EU). The deadline for transposing the EU rules into national law was 10 October 2017. So far, neither Italy nor Portugal has communicated to the Commission which measures have been taken to that end. In November 2017, the Commission, therefore, sent letters of formal notice, to which the respective Member States did not reply. As a result, the Commission is now inviting Italy and Portugal to take the necessary measures to comply with the Directive. If they fail to adopt and notify the national legislation transposing this Directive within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the EU.

2. Energy

Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Nuclear waste: Commission refers AUSTRIA, CROATIA and ITALY to Court for failing to notify national programmes

The European Commission has decided to refer Austria, Croatia and Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU for failure to notify their final national programmes for the management of the spent fuel and radioactive waste, as required under the Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Directive (Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom). This type of waste is also the byproduct of the non-power use of nuclear and radiation technologies, such as research in science and various medical applications. It is a priority for the Commission to ensure that the highest safety standards for radioactive waste and spent fuel management are in place. According to Article 15(4), in conjunction with Article 13(1) of the Directive, Member States were required to notify their national programme for the first time to the Commission by 23 August 2015. The Commission reminded the three Member States of their obligation under the Directive and asked them to provide clarifications on the procedures that had still to be undertaken before the adoption of their programmes, as well as the foreseen adoption and notification dates thereof. As the three Member States had only notified draft versions of their programmes, letters of formal notice were sent to Austria, Croatia and Italy in April 2016 and were followed by reasoned opinions in July 2017. The Commission considers that it is for the authorities of these Member States to take all necessary measures to adopt their final national programme for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste and to notify it to the Commission. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Reasoned opinions:

Energy efficiency of buildings: Commission requests the NETHERLANDS to correctly EU rules on energy performance certificates

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to the Netherlands formally requesting the correct implementation of some of the requirements for recommendations on energy performance certificates, as well as the correct implementation of an independent control system of such certificates, in accordance with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive 2010/31/EC). The Directive requires that recommendations included on the energy performance certificates for the residential sector are comparable to recommendations issued on a case by case basis by independent experts. Furthermore, it requires that Member States establish an independent control system ensuring that a statistically significant percentage of the energy performance certificates issued annually is controlled. A letter of formal notice and an additional letter of formal notice had been sent to the Netherlands in July 2016 and in June 2017, respectively. However, as measures concerning the above-mentioned requirements have still not been adopted, the Commission has now proceeded to the next step in the infringement procedure. The Netherlands has two months to comply with the reasoned opinion; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the Member State to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Letters of formal notice:

Nuclear waste: Commission urges 20 Member State to correctly transpose EU rules

The Commission has decided to send letters of formal notice to Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania andthe United Kingdom 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. In addition, the Commission calls on Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom to adopt a national programmes for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste management policy. The concerned Member States now have two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Nuclear safety standards: Commission calls on 9 Member States to transpose EU legislation

The Commission have decided to send letters of formal notice to Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Sweden requesting transposition of the new Basic Safety Standards Directive (Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom). Member States were required to transpose the Directive by 6 February 2018. The new Directive modernises and consolidates the European radiation protection legislation. It lays down basic safety standards to protect workers, members of the public, and patients against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation. It also includes emergency preparedness and response provisions that were strengthened following the Fukushima nuclear accident. The concerned Member States now have two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

3. Environment

Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Commission refers AUSTRIA to Court over hunting of wild birds

The European Commission has decided to refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the EU for allowing the hunt of woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) during its reproductive period in the Land of Lower Austria, in breach of the EU rules on the conservation of wild birds. The woodcock is protected under the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC). The Directive recognises hunting of birds listed in Annex II of the Directive under certain conditions as a legitimate activity, but bans it during periods when birds are most vulnerable, for instance, during the period of reproduction and return to rearing grounds of migratory birds. Member States may derogate from this prohibition of spring hunting only when there is no other satisfactory solution and when only a small number of birds is affected. Lower Austria authorises the spring hunting of woodcock from 1 March until 15 April, which coincides with the breeding and rearing season of the local breeding population. In the view of the Commission, the strict conditions for derogation are not fulfilled and, therefore, Austria is in breach of the Birds Directive. Firstly, there is 'another satisfactory solution' in the form of autumn hunting which is widely practised in other Member States and other Austrian regions. Secondly, Lower Austria authorises a number of birds that cannot be regarded as small within the meaning of the Birds Directive. The Commission initiated the infringement proceedings in September 2013 and sent a reasoned opinion to the Austrian authorities in May 2015. Various further exchanges at political level with the Austrian authorities took place since then but did not lead to a resolution. Lower Austria is the only remaining Land in Austria that has not yet prohibited the spring hunt of woodcock. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union and letters of formal notice

Air quality: Commission takes action to protect citizens from air pollution

The Commission is standing up for Europeans' need to breathe clean air. The Commission is providing national, regional and local actors with practical help to improve air quality in Europe. In addition, the Commission is today referring France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to respect agreed air quality limit values and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. The Commission is also issuing additional letters of formal notice to Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom on the grounds that they have disregarded EU vehicle type approval rules. The Member States now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Reasoned opinions:

Environmental impact: Commission calls on CYPRUS, IRELAND and SPAIN to fully enact new EU rules into national legislation

The Commission requests Cyprus, Ireland and Spain to adapt their national laws to take into account modifications of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (Directive 2014/52/EU). The aim of this Directive is to ensure that an adequate impact assessment for projects likely to have significant effects on the environment is done before they are approved. The Commission opened the infringement proceedings against the 3 Member States in July 2017. The missing provisions have not yet been fully incorporated into the respective national laws because the existing laws on impact assessment are currently being revised. The Commission is now sending reasoned opinions. If the countries in question fail to act within two months from the receipt of the reasoned opinion, the cases may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Water: Commission urges on GREECE to comply with rules on flood prevention

The Commission calls on Greece to comply with the requirements of the Floods Directive (Directive 2007/60/EC). The Directive aims to reduce and manage the risks that floods pose to human health, the environment and economic activity. Under EU law, Member States had to complete and publish flood risk management plans, and notify them to the Commission by 22 March 2016. In April 2017, the Commission opened the infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to the Greek authorities due to their failure to complete, publish and communicate the necessary 15 flood risk management plans. As Greece has still not notified these plans, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion. Greece has two months to reply. If Greece fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Birds: Commission calls on SPAIN to end finch trapping

The Commission urges on Spain to bring its hunting legislation in line with EU rules on the conservation of wild birds (Directive 2009/147/EC). The case concerns Spain's decision to allow the live capture (i.e. trapping) of five species of wild finches. In the EU, the capture and keeping of bird species like finches is generally prohibited. However, Member States may derogate from the requirement of strict protection only in the absence of other satisfactory solutions, and provided that the population of the species concerned is maintained at a satisfactory level. As these conditions are not met in this case, and in particular as captive breeding is a satisfactory alternative, the Commission is urging Spain to refrain from finch trapping. The Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion. If Spain fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Drinking water: Commission urges SPAIN to enact EU rules on drinking water

The Commission is calling on Spain to complete the enactment of the Drinking Water Directive into its national laws. The Drinking Water Directive aims to protect human health from adverse effects of any contamination of water intended for human consumption by ensuring that it is wholesome and clean. In October 2015, technical annexes laying down the minimum requirements for monitoring drinking water were revised (Directive 2015/1787 83/EC), in light of technical and scientific progress. Member States were obliged to adopt the measures necessary to comply with the Directive by 27 October 2017. After Spain missed the initial deadline, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice in November 2017. Spain has acknowledged that their authorities are still preparing the necessary measures for complying with the Directive in question. The Commission is now sending a reasoned opinion. Spain has two months to inform the Commission of the measures taken to address the shortcomings; otherwise, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

A reasoned opinion and a letter of notice:

Noise: Commission urges BELGIUM and CROATIA to adopt noise maps and action plans on environmental noise

The Commission calls on Belgium and Croatia to comply with the key provisions of EU law on noise (Directive 2002/49/EC). The Noise Directive requires Member States to adopt noise maps showing noise exposure within bigger urban areas, along main railways, main roads and of major airports. These maps then serve as a basis for defining measures in noise action plans. After receiving a first notice in February 2017, Belgium has made limited progress. Strategic noise documents are still missing in the Walloon region, and the Commission is also concerned about the review procedure of the action plan for the Brussels agglomeration as it did not involve the public. Belgium has now two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion. After receiving a letter of formal notice in February 2017, Croatia has still not developed strategic noise maps for 91 major roads, and failed to provide complete information on the strategic maps for 70 major roads and all major railways. In addition, Croatia did not consult the public on action plan proposals for the urban areas of Split and Rijeka, 91 major roads and 6 major railways. Due to this limited improvement, the Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion. If Croatia fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Letters of formal notice:

Nature protection: Commission calls on CYPRUS and LITHUANIA to complete NATURA 2000 network

The European Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Cyprus and Lithuania over their failure to ensure adequate protection for indigenous habitats and species by designating nature protection areas. Under the EU nature legislation (Council Directive 92/43/EEC on Habitats and on Birds, Directive 2009/147/EC), Member States agreed to contribute to the establishment of a coherent European Natura 2000 network by designating the most appropriate sites, at national level, as Special Protection Areas (SPAs - under the Birds Directive) and by proposing adequate Sites of Community Importance (SCIs - under the Habitats Directive) to the Commission. Both countries have not provided an exhaustive list of SCIs and the proposed SCIs do not adequately cover the various habitat types and species that need protection.Cyprus has also not designated a sufficient number of offshore SPA sites. The Commission is now sending a letter of formal notice. The Member States now have two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Urban waste water: Commission urges ITALY to comply with the Court ruling and ensure proper wastewater treatment

The European Commission calls on Italy to fully comply with the ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU of 10 April 2014 (case C-85/13). The Court found that Italy had breached its obligations under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Council Directive 91/271/EEC), by failing to ensure that urban waste water is adequately collected and treated. The Directive requires Member States to ensure that all agglomerations (towns, cities and settlements), with a population of above 10,000 inhabitants, and discharging wastewater into sensitive areas, properly collect and treat their urban wastewater. Despite the progress made since the Court ruling, compliance has still not been reached in 14 agglomerations. As four years have passed since the ruling, the Commission is now sending a last reminder to Italy before referring the case back to Court, and urging for financial sanctions to be imposed. Italy has two months to reply to the letter of formal notice; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

4. Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

A referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Payment accounts: Commission modifies proposed financial sanction for SPAIN's failure to fully implement payment accounts rules

The European Commission decided today to propose a lower financial sanction in the context of its referral of Spain to the Court of Justice of the EU for failure to notify measures for fully implementing the EU Payment Accounts Directive (Directive 2014/92/EU). This confirms the Commission's decision from October 2017, but takes into account the partial transposition of the Directive reached in the meantime. The Commission will call on the Court to impose a daily penalty of € 48,919.20 for Spain from the day of the judgement until this Directive is fully enacted and in force in national law. The EU rules on payment accounts are essential to ensure consumers benefit from transparent payment accounts in a competitive and inclusive market. The Directive gives all legal EU residents the right to a basic payment account for a reasonable fee, regardless the place of residence. It also improves the transparency of payment account fees and makes it easier to compare and switch. Member States' laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive had to enter into force by 18 September 2016 and the Commission had to be informed immediately. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

5. Health and Food Safety

Referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Commission refers ITALY to Court over its failure to adequately prevent further spread of the quarantine harmful organism 'Xylella fastidiosa' in Apulia

Today, the European Commission decided to refer Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU on the grounds that the Italian authorities are not taking the necessary measures to eradicate the quarantine harmful organism Xylella fastidiosa in Apulia and thus have failed to stop its spread. Following the first notification of the outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa in the Apulia region in October 2013, the Italian authorities failed to fully comply with the EU rules on quarantine organisms harmful to plants or plant products and prevent its further spread in Apulia (Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2015/789and Council Directive 2000/29/EC). These measures involve, among other provisions, the removal of infected plants in some parts of the demarcated areas immediately after the first confirmation of the presence of Xylella fastidiosa,as well as monitoring and sampling of the plants in the relevant parts of the demarcated area. The timetable communicated by Italy was considered not effective to ensure the immediate removal of the infected trees as requested by EU legislation. This lack of adequate action increases the high risk of further spreading of the organism out of the current demarcated area to elsewhere in Italy and beyond. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Commission refers ITALY to the Court over the transposition of certain technical requirements on testing of human tissues and cells

The Commission has decided to refer Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU for its failure to notify the transposition measures of EU rules which amends the existing requirements applicable to the testing of human tissues and cells (Commission Directive 2012/39/EU). These amendments are crucial for all involved parties and in particular for the donors and the donors' family in the context of setting standards of quality and safety for the donation, procurement, testing, processing, preservation, storage and distribution of human tissues and cells. To date, Italy has not notified the Commission of the measures transposing this amending Directive into national law, despite being required to do so by 17 June 2014. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

6. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Reasoned opinion:

Public procurement: Commission urges AUSTRIA to comply with EU rules

The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Austria regarding the direct award used by the municipality of Vienna for the construction of its new office building. The European Commission received information that the municipality committed to rent a building before it was even built. The Commission considers that this contract was qualified as a mixed public works contract and not as a mere rental contract, and that a call for tenders should have been organised. By not publishing a call for tenders, the Commission considers that the municipality has breached EU rules on the principles of transparency, equal treatment of potentially interested economic operators, principles of awarding contracts as well as the use of one of the appropriate procedures and publication of notices as laid down in Directive 2004/18/EC. Austria now has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy the situation; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Professional qualification: Commission requests FRANCE to change its practices regarding psychomotor therapists trained in Belgium

The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to France requesting it to change the way it qualifies psychomotor therapists trained in Belgium. French authorities refuse to recognise such qualifications on the grounds that in Belgium, contrary to France, the profession is not classified as a health profession. According to EU rules on recognition of professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC) foreign qualifications should be assessed based on the activities effectively performed in the home Member State. In the Commission's view, the French practice does not respect this Directive. France now has two months to notify the Commission of the measures taken to comply with the Directive; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer it to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Letters of formal notice:

Vehicles with the steering wheel on the right-hand side: Commission requests more information from LATVIA on registering of passenger vehicles

The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Latvia regarding the prohibition on registering passenger vehicles with the steering wheel on the right-hand side in Latvia. The Commission considers that such a prohibition infringes the EU rules on motor vehicle type approval (Directive 2007/46/EC) and the principle of free movement of goods (Articles 34-36 of TFEU). Moreover, the Court of Justice already ruled on the issue with respect to other Member States in 2014 (Poland, case No C-639/11, and Lithuania, case No C-61/12) and held that other less restrictive measures to ensure road safety exist. The Commission considers that Latvia should amend its legislation following the rulings of the Court. Latvia has now two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion to the Latvian authorities.

Closures:

Parallel trade of medicines: Commission closes infringement proceedings and complaints against POLAND, ROMANIA and SLOVAKIA

The European Commission decided today to close its infringement procedures and the treatment of complaints in the area of parallel trade of medicines for human use against Poland, Romania and Slovakia. From the start, the Juncker Commission has been focusing on its political priorities and pursuing them vigorously. This political approach is also reflected in the Commission's handling of infringement cases. The Communication "EU law: Better results through better application" sets out the Commission's approach to prioritising cases in a strategic manner, carefully weighing the various public and private interests involved. Parallel imports and exports of medicinal products is a lawful form of trade within the Single Market. Member States may, however, in certain cases restrict parallel trade, as long as the measures are justified, reasonable and proportionate to ensure a legitimate public interest. For example, to ensure an adequate and continuous supply of pharmaceuticals to the population. The lack of appropriate and continued supplies of human medicinal products to pharmacies is a serious and growing problem that has occurred in recent years in a number of Member States and can gravely impact the treatment of patients. The Commission acknowledges that parallel trade in medicines may be one of the reasons for the occurrence of shortages of a number of medicinal products for human use. Reconciling the respect to the free movement of goods with the right of access to healthcare to patients is a fine balancing act. After careful assessment, the Commission has concluded on the need to look for other ways than infringements to adequately solve this complex situation in order to swiftly and efficiently deal with an issue that might have negative impact on the health of European citizens. The Commission considers that a structured dialogue including all relevant parties should rapidly take place. The Commission remains committed to supporting Member States in their efforts to ensure that citizens have timely access to affordable, preventive and curative healthcare of good quality. To do so, it will gather more information from the Member States and other stakeholders to discuss the implementation of the public service obligation and export restrictions within the Commission Working Group on Pharmaceuticals (Human Pharmaceutical Committee). For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Late payment: Commission closes infringement against SPAIN

The European Commission decided today to close an infringement proceedings against Spain in the area of late payment. In February 2017, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to the Spanish authorities for passing a national law which systematically granted public entities an additional 30 days to the time of payment. The Commission considered that the law was not compatible with Article 4 of the Late Payment Directive (Directive 2011/7/EU) and requested more information from the Spanish authorities. In December 2017, Spain amended the law which is now in compliance with the Directive. The Commission thus decided to close the case.

7. Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality

A letter of formal notice:

Consumers: Commission urges POLAND to transpose EU rules on consumer rights

The European Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Poland for incorrectly transposing part of EU rules on consumer rights (Consumer Right Directive, Directive 2011/83/EU). The new EU rules will strengthen consumers' rights in all EU countries, particularly when shopping online. Member States had to transpose the Directive into their national laws until 13 December 2013. The Commission is in view that the Polish authorities have incorrectly applied EU legislation into national law. Firstly, Poland has incorrectly transposed EU rules on 'trader' definition. According to the Directive, traders have obligations not only when they are offering goods or services directly, but also when such traders market their products through actors, such as online platforms. Secondly, information requirements on the arrangements for payment, delivery, performance and deadlines as set in EU rules are not specific in the Polish law. Finally, the information requirement on the interoperability of digital content is not limited to the information the trader is aware of or can reasonably be expected to have been aware of. This introduces a disproportionate burden on traders operating in Poland. Poland now has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

8. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Letters of formal notice

Fisheries control: Commission urges IRELAND to establish the framework for an effective enforcement of points systems

The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Ireland over its failure to implement a point system for fisheries as required under the EU Control Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No N° 1224/2009). A point system is required when it comes to serious infringements of the Common Fisheries Policy, committed by masters and licence holders of vessels flying the flag of Ireland. The Commission also considers that Ireland has not put into operation the current national legislation implementing the point system for licence holders, with the consequence that no points are being assigned for licence holders. Ireland has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the latter may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Common market organisation: Commission calls on the UNITED KINGDOM to establish a functioning management system of producer organisations

The Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for failure to carry out checks and ensure compliance with the conditions for recognition of fishery producer organisations. The information gathered by the Commission demonstrates that the system of producer organisations as it evolved in the United Kingdom no longer serves the aim to bring together producers to fulfil the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy and of the common organisation of the markets (Regulation (EU) No 1379/2013). In particular, the system undermines the principle of non-discrimination between producer organisations across the EU and may also jeopardise the allocation of fishing opportunities in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the common organisation of the markets policy, consumers receive more and better information on the products sold on the EU market, which, regardless of their origin, must comply with the same rules. The United Kingdom has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the latter may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

9. Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship

A referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union

Commission takes SLOVAKIA to the Court for failing to provide judicial remedies against refusals, annulments or revocations of visas

The European Commission decided today to refer Slovakia to the Court of Justice of the EU for not allowing judicial appeal against a decision to refuse, annul or revoke a visa.

National law in Slovakia currently only provides for the possibility for an appeal before non-judicial administrative authorities. On the basis of the Visa Code (Regulation (EC) No 810/2009) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, visa applicants have the right to a non-arbitrary treatment of their visa application which must be protected by a judicial appeal procedure. The replies given by the Slovak Republic to the letter of formal notice in 2013 and the reasoned opinions in 2015 and 2018 do not address the concerns raised by the Commission. The Commission has, therefore, decided to refer Slovakia to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.

Letter of formal notice:

Legal migration: Commission urges THE NETHERLANDS to abolish excessive fees for residence permits

The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to the Netherlands for charging excessive and disproportionate fees for residence permits under EU legal migration rules. EU law covers the conditions of entry and residence for certain categories of non-EU migrants, such as students, researchers, and highly skilled workers but also long-term residents and beneficiaries of rules on family reunification. While Member States are allowed to levy administrative charges for processing applications, excessive and disproportionate charges breach the rights of the applicants. A first letter of formal notice was sent on 7 December 2017 concerning the fees that the Netherlands charge for permits issued under the Students Directive (Council Directive 2004/114/EC), the Researchers Directive (Council Directive 2005/71/EC), the EU Blue Card Directive (Council Directive 2009/50/EC) and the Single Permit Directive (Directive 2011/98/EU). Today's additional letter of formal notice concerns the fees charged for permits issued under the Seasonal Workers Directive (Directive 2014/36/EU) and the Intra-corporate transfer Directive (Directive 2014/66/EU). The Netherlands now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

10. Mobility and Transport

Reasoned opinions:

Roadworthiness: Commission urges 3 Member States to transpose new vehicle testing rules increasing road safety

The Commission requested today 3 Member States to fully transpose a series of Directives known as the 'Roadworthiness Package'. In 2014, this package was adopted with a view to improve vehicle testing in EU, and, therefore, road safety. Member States were required to transpose it by 20 May 2017. To date, however, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain have not – or only partially – done so. Firstly, Portugal and Slovenia 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, Spain has not 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. 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 safety: Commission calls on DENMARK to apply EU rules on exchange of information on road traffic offences

The Commission decided today to request Denmark to implement the European rules on the cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences (Directive 2015/413/EU). This Directive allows Member States to identify and prosecute non-resident drivers committing offences, such as speeding and drink-driving on their territory. It is estimated that thanks to this Directive, investigated offences committed by non-residents have increased by four times. This acts as a strong deterrent for traffic offenders and thereby contributes to road safety in Europe. Denmark should have implemented this Directive by 6 May 2017, but is still to do so. The Commission has, therefore, decided to send a reasoned opinion to the Danish authorities. Denmark now has two months to notify the Commission of measures implementing the Directive. The Commission may otherwise refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Rail transport: Commission requests GERMANY to fully transpose EU legislation on rail safety

The Commission requested Germany today to fully comply with EU law on railway safety (Directive 2004/49/EC). The Directive notably requires Member States to establish an independent safety authority, independent accident and incident investigation body as well as to coherently allocate tasks and safety responsibilities. Moreover, Member States are required to define common railway safety principles. Germany has, however, failed to ensure that its regional transport networks are subject to the safety requirements set out by the Directive. In addition, the proper allocation of responsibilities regarding safety management and risk control has not been ensured, and reporting obligations to the investigating body have not been fully met. For these reasons, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to the German authorities. They now have two months to comply with their obligations. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Letters of formal notice:

Rail Transport: Commission calls on SPAIN to correctly transpose EU rules establishing a single railway area

The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Spain for failing to correctly transpose the EU legislation establishing a single European railway area (Directive 2012/34/EU). The Commission takes the view that the rail regulatory framework in Spain is in breach of several provisions of the Directive, concerning inter alia the powers and resources of the regulatory body, the management independence of the infrastructure manager - in particular as regards the setting of infrastructure charges - and the independence of the railway undertaking from the State. Shortcomings have also been identified in the allocation of infrastructure capacity and in the infrastructure charging system. Spain has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission. The Commission may otherwise decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Seafarers: Commission urges LATVIA and SPAIN to comply with EU rules on minimum level of training of seafarers

The Commission decided today to send letters of formal notice to Latvia and Spain for failing to comply with the EU rules on the minimum level of training of seafarers (Directive 2008/106/EC). These rules aim to ensure that seafarers' training standards are respected across the EU and are in line with standards already agreed at international level. The Commission considers that Latvia has not fulfilled its obligations under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), in relation to near-costal voyages. In the case of Spain, the Commission identified a number of shortcomings regarding, among others, seafarer certification; the design, review and approval of maritime programmes and courses; the monitoring and evaluation of training and assessment by the maritime administration. Latvia and Spain have two months to respond to the concerns raised by the Commission; failing this, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Aviation safety: Commission calls on IRELAND to comply with EU rules on protecting safety reporting

The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Ireland for failing to comply with some of the European requirements on the reporting, analysis and follow-up of occurrences in civil aviation (Regulation (EU) No 376/2014). This Regulation sets out a framework to prevent accidents via the analysis of safety events, which are reported by individuals, in particular, by aviation professionals. One of the obligations for the Member States is to designate a body responsible for monitoring the implementation of rules that encourage individuals to report safety events by protecting them from punishment where they act adequately to their experience and training. Ireland, however, has not yet created such a body. Ireland has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

11. Taxation and Customs Union

A reasoned opinion:

Taxation: Commission requests HUNGARY to end the discriminatory taxation of spirit drinks

The European Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Hungary for granting an exemption from the public health tax to fruit distillates, such as the national drink pálinka, as well as to herbal drinks where national production is dominant. At the same time similar goods, such as vodka, whisky, gin or brandy are not exempted and taxes applied are therefore higher. This represents a violation of Article 110 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). If Hungary does not act within the next two months, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the Court of Justice of the EU.

Letters of formal notice:

Taxation: Commission requests ITALY to align its rules regarding excise duty exemption for fuel used to navigate within EU waters

The European Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Italy for treating chartered pleasure boats as commercial vessels, and therefore allowing them to benefit from excise duty exemption on fuel to power its engines. This infringes EU tax rules (Energy Tax Directive, Council Directive 2003/96/EC) which do not allow such vessels to benefit from excise duty exemption. If Italy does not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion to the Italian authorities.

Taxation: Commission requests ROMANIA to align its vehicle registration taxes with EU law

The European Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Romania for failing to ensure the full and immediate refund of registration taxes on second-hand vehicles purchased from other Member States. This infringes EU law (Article 110 of the TFEU) because the Romanian rules on the repayment of taxes do not fulfil the principles of sincere cooperation, equivalence and effectiveness. If Romania does not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion to the Romanian authorities.

Source: European Commission

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