Wed. May 18th, 2022

Brussels, 9 February 2022

Overview by policy area

In its regular package of infringement decisions, the European Commission pursues 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 109 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 Q&A. For more detail on all decisions taken, consult the infringement decisions’ register.

 

Environment and fisheries

Letters of formal notice

Water: Commission reminds BULGARIA, CYPRUS, GREECE, LITHUANIA, LUXEMBOURG, ROMANIA and SLOVAKIA of their obligation to provide updated flood risk maps

The Commission is asking Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovakia to update their Flood Hazard Maps and Flood Risk Maps as required by the Floods Directive (2007/60/EC) on the assessment and management of flood risks. Flood Hazard Maps should cover the geographical areas which could be flooded, whereas Flood Risk Maps show the potential negative consequences associated with these flood scenarios. These maps form the basis for the drafting of Flood Risk Management Plans.

The catastrophic floods in Germany and Belgium in July 2021 were the most recent demonstration of the importance of assessing and managing flood risks, to protect lives, livelihoods and the environment. The European Green Deal stresses the importance of Europe adapting to climate change impacts to meet its other key environmental objectives.

Member States were required to report on the updates they made to their first Flood Hazard Maps and Flood Risk Maps by December 2019. The objective is to keep the maps fit for purpose and reduce the negative consequences of floods for human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.

The deadline for informing the Commission about the review and updating expired in March 2020. As the Commission did not receive any information on the process from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovakia, the Commission has decided to send letters of formal notice to these Member States. The seven Member States now have two months to respond to the letter and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. Otherwise the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

 

Pollution: Commission calls on IRELAND to improve its rules on pollution arising from industrial activities

The Commission is calling on Ireland to bring its national legislation in line with the Industrial Emissions Directive (Directive 2010/75/EU). Industrial activities have a significant impact on the environment. The Directive lays down rules on activities that include the prevention or reduction of emissions into air, water and soil and the prevention of waste generation.

Full implementation of the Directive is key to effectively protect human health and safeguard the natural environment. The European Green Deal has set a Zero Pollution ambition for the EU, putting emphasis on cutting air pollution, which is among the key factors affecting human health.

Ireland has not transposed certain definitions of the Directive (e.g., “substance”, “pollution”, “operator”, “dioxins and furans”) into national legislation. Moreover, there is no mandatory mechanism ensuring the interaction between different authorities in the permitting process. Certain requirements in relation to the reconsideration and update of permit conditions have not been transposed either.

Therefore, the Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to Ireland, which has now two months to respond to the letter and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

Waste: Commission calls on PORTUGAL to improve its treatment of waste

The Commission is calling on Portugal to correctly apply the Landfill Directive (Directive 1999/31/EC) and the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC). Under the Landfill Directive, Member States must take measures to ensure that only waste that has been subject to treatment is landfilled.

Full implementation of EU standards on waste pollution is essential to prevent negative effects on human health, water, soil and air. The European Green Deal has set a Zero Pollution ambition for the EU.

In its judgement of 15 October 2014, the Court of Justice of the EU ruled that, before landfilling, waste must be treated in the most appropriate way to reduce negative impacts on the environment and human health as far as possible. Following this ruling, in 2015, the Commission launched a study to investigate the landfilling of untreated municipal waste in Member States. In Portugal, the study revealed shortcomings in four of the five landfills visited. At least 59% of the municipal waste is landfilled without any treatment. Furthermore, Portugal has not established an integrated and adequate network of waste management installations for mixed municipal waste.

Therefore, the Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to Portugal, which has now two months to respond to the letter and address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

 

Nature: Commission calls on the NETHERLANDS to comply with its obligations under the Habitats Directive to monitor by-catch of harbour porpoises by fishing vessels

The Commission is calling on the Netherlands to implement the measures required by the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC) to monitor the incidental capture and killing (by-catch) of harbour porpoises by fishing vessels, as well as measures to prevent the disturbance of the species in Natura 2000 sites.

The harbour porpoise is a strictly protected species under the Habitats Directive, for which deliberate capture or killing and deliberate disturbance are prohibited.

Complying with standards concerning protected species is essential to protect biodiversity across the EU. The European Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 both aim for the EU to halt its biodiversity loss by preserving natural sites and restoring damaged ecosystems to favourable conservation status for habitats/species.

Despite well-documented evidence of this species being caught in fishing gear, the Netherlands has not taken sufficient action to monitor by-catches in its waters and by its fleets, as required by the Directive. The Netherlands has also not transposed into its national legislation the requirement of the Habitats Directive for Member States to monitor incidental capture and killing of strictly protected species.

Therefore, the Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to the Netherlands, which now has two months to respond to the letter and take the necessary measures. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

 

Additional letters of formal notice, art. 258

Environmental assessments: Commission calls on SLOVAKIA to assess the national plan on the usage of hydro energetic potential

The Commission is calling on Slovakia to comply with EU rules on an environmental assessment of their national plan on the usage of hydro energetic potential, as well as of individual small hydroelectric energy power plants. In line with the Directive on the assessment of certain effects of plans and programmes on the environment (the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive – Directive 2001/42/EC), certain public plans and programmes are subject to an environmental assessment. Environmental governance, and in particular assessments, is essential for the proper functioning of EU legislation, which safeguards our health and environment.

Slovakia is required to carry out a strategic environmental assessment of the national plan on the usage of hydro energetic potential. However, only 4 out of 37 small hydro power plants listed in the Slovak national plan were made subject to the strategic environmental assessment. Leaving out the vast majority means that the authorities could not identify the options that would cause the least amount of harm to the environment.

Furthermore, at the project level, the Slovak authorities did not carry out the relevant environmental assessments for several already constructed small hydro power plants as required by the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC) and the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC).

Therefore, the Commission is sending an additional letter of formal notice to Slovakia. Slovakia has now two months to respond to the letter and address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

 

Reasoned opinions

Urban waste water: Commission calls on ROMANIA to ensure correct treatment of waste water

The Commission is calling on Romania to comply with the requirements of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Directive 91/271/EEC). The Directive requires Member States to ensure that urban agglomerations (towns, cities, settlements) properly collect and treat their waste waters, thus eliminating or reducing all their undesirable effects.

The European Green Deal sets a Zero Pollution ambition for the EU. EU legislation, such as the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, aims to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment, and it is essential that Member States implement it fully.

Monitoring data shows that, in Romania, over 180 large agglomerations still do not comply both with obligations related to the collection of their waste waters and their treatment.

The replies to the letters of formal notice sent to Romania in June 2018 and October 2020 do not satisfactorily address the concerns of the Commission.

Therefore, the Commission has decided today to issue a reasoned opinion. Romania will have two months to reply and take the necessary measures, otherwise the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Biodiversity: Commission calls on 15 Member States to protect the environment against invasive alien species

The Commission is calling on Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia to implement various provisions of Regulation 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species.

Invasive alien species are plants and animals which, as a result of human intervention, are introduced accidentally or deliberately into a natural environment where they are not normally found. This has serious negative consequences for their new environment. They are one of the five major causes of biodiversity loss in Europe and worldwide. Addressing them is an important aspect of the EU’s aim to halt biodiversity loss as articulated in the European Green Deal and the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.

The 15 Member States concerned have failed to establish, implement and communicate to the Commission an action plan (or a set of action plans) to address the most important pathways of introduction and spread of invasive alien species of concern for the EU. A large proportion of invasive alien species are introduced unintentionally into the Union. It is therefore crucial to prioritise and manage the pathways of unintentional introduction more effectively.

In addition, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania did not yet establish a surveillance system of invasive alien species of Union concern, or include it in their existing system, although the deadline for this was January 2018.

The Commission had sent letters of formal notice to 18 Member States in June 2021. As the responses received from 15 of those Member States were unsatisfactory, the Commission has decided to issue reasoned opinions. Member States now have two months to respond and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union. More information on the EU legislation on Invasive Alien Species and their impact on the environment, health and the economy is in our press release.

 

Nature: Commission calls on SLOVAKIA to ensure that EU nature protection laws are respected

The Commission is calling on Slovakia to respect its obligations under the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC). Under the Habitats Directive, Member States must propose sites of Community importance (SCIs), which are then added to EU biogeographical lists. Within six years of listing, Member States must designate SCIs as special areas of conservation (SACs), establish conservation objectives and measures to maintain or restore the protected species and habitats present in the sites, to reach favourable conservation status at national biogeographical level.

These are key requirements to protect biodiversity across the EU. The European Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 both aim for the EU to halt its biodiversity loss by preserving natural sites and restoring damaged ecosystems to favourable conservation status.

Slovakia has designated only 27 out of its 473 SCIs and the six-year period for designating these sites as SACs has expired. In addition, Slovakia has persistently failed to set detailed site-specific conservation objectives and the necessary conservation measures that would ensure effective protection and restoration of these 473 sites.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Slovakia in July 2019 but did not receive a satisfactory response. Therefore, the Commission has decided to issue a reasoned opinion. Slovakia now has two months to respond and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Referrals to the Court of Justice

Urban Waste Water: Commission decides to refer MALTA to the Court of Justice of the European Union over waste water treatment

The Commission decided today to refer Malta to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Directive 91/271/EEC). The Directive requires Member States to ensure that urban agglomerations (towns, cities, settlements) properly collect and treat their waste waters, thus eliminating or reducing all their undesirable effects. The European Green Deal sets a Zero Pollution ambition for the EU. EU legislation, such as the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, aims to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment, and it is essential that Member States implement it fully. Malta should have been fully compliant with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive since 31 March 2007. Malta has failed to ensure that for the Malta South and Malta North agglomerations urban waste water entering collection systems is subject to correct treatment before being discharged. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Malta in December 2016, followed by a reasoned opinion in October 2017. Despite some progress, the Maltese authorities have not fully addressed the grievances. The Commission considers that efforts by the Maltese authorities have to date been insufficient and is therefore referring Malta to the Court of Justice of the European Union. More information is in the press release.

 

Urban Waste Water: Commission decides to refer POLAND to the Court of Justice of the European Union over waste water treatment

The Commission decided today to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Directive 91/271/EEC). The Directive requires Member States to ensure that urban agglomerations (towns, cities, settlements) properly collect and treat their waste waters, thus eliminating or reducing all their undesirable effects. The European Green Deal sets a Zero Pollution ambition for the EU. EU legislation, such as the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, aims to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment, and it is essential that Member States implement it fully. Poland should have been fully compliant with the Directive by 2015. In Poland, over 1000 agglomerations do not have a collecting system for their municipal waste waters meaning that the waste water is being directly discharged in rivers, seas or lakes without treatment. The waste water should normally be directed to a waste water treatment plant before being discharged. In addition, in 415 agglomerations, whose waste waters are being discharged in sensitive areas, Poland has not ensured that those waters are subject to more stringent treatment as required by the Directive. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Poland on 26 January 2018, followed by a reasoned opinion on 14 May 2020. The Commission considers that despite some progress and financial support from EU cohesion policy, efforts by the Polish authorities have to date been insufficient and is therefore referring Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union. More information is in the press release.

 

Fisheries and maritime affairs

Letters of formal notice

Fisheries: Commission calls on CROATIA to ensure effective monitoring and control of bluefin tuna farms

The Commission is calling on Croatia to comply with EU rules to ensure an effective monitoring, control and inspection system for Croatian bluefin tuna farms (Regulations 1224/20091380/20131005/2008 and  2016/1627). An audit and verification by the Commission identified serious shortcomings in monitoring the transfer and caging operations of bluefin tuna. National authorities should ensure that data are cross-checked, accurate and validated, and should investigate potential non-compliance cases and take administrative or criminal measures against those responsible for infringing EU law.

The Commission considers that Croatia has not taken the necessary steps to address these deficiencies. Therefore, the Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to Croatia, which now has two months to respond to the letter and take the necessary measures. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

 

Reasoned opinions

Fisheries: Commission calls on the NETHERLANDS to ensure compliance with rules on weighing, traceability and catch registration

The Commission is calling on the Netherlands to comply with the Control Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009), the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008) and the Common Fisheries Policy Regulation  (Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013). In particular, the Netherlands failed to put in place an effective control, inspection and enforcement system of essential aspects of weighing, traceability and registration of catches.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to the Netherlands on 30 October 2020 because of a number of serious shortcomings that it identified. However, the Commission considers that the Netherlands has still not taken the necessary steps to address all the identified deficiencies. Therefore, the Commission has decided today to issue a reasoned opinion to the Netherlands, giving it two months to reply and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Letters of formal notice

Professional qualification: Commission asks BELGIUM to comply with EU rules

The Commission has decided to open an infringement proceeding against Belgium for not complying with EU rules on the freedom of establishment and the recognition of professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC). Belgium has introduced a specific category of general dental practitioner necessary to practice dentistry under the Belgian public health care system. This title requires additional training but does not give access to additional activities than the ones of a dental practitioner recognised by the Directive. According to the Commission, this requirement seems an unjustified restriction of establishment and a violation of Article 55 of Directive 2005/36/EC, which does not allow any additional preparatory periods to access the public health care system in the host state when recognised under the professional qualifications Directive.  Belgium has now two months to reply to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion to Belgium.

 

Regulated professions: Commission calls on LATVIA and SPAIN to ensure proper transposition of the rules on a proportionality test

The Commission has decided to open infringement proceedings against Latvia and Spain for not having properly transposed the EU rules on a proportionality test before adoption of new regulation of professions (Directive (EU) 2018/958). This decision follows the opening of infringement proceedings against 18 Member States in December 2021.The Directive requires Member States to make sure that any requirements for professions they introduce are necessary and balanced. According to the Commission, both countries failed to ensure that proportionality assessments capture all types of regulations such as those adopted by professional associations. In addition, Latvia has not ensured that draft legislation submitted by the President and committees or members of the parliament would be comprehensively assessed. It also failed to accurately transpose the relevant definitions and certain assessment criteria, such as those covering all types of potential territorial restrictions or all forms of regulation of professions. The Commission considers that Spain failed to ensure the necessary procedural guarantees, such as objectivity of assessments and effective remedy with regard to the matters covered by the Directive. Spain and Latvia have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send them a reasoned opinion.

 

Migration, Home Affairs and Security Union

Letters of formal notice

Fight against money laundering: Commission urges PORTUGAL, MALTA, LATVIA and LITHUANIA to explain how they transposed EU rules on combating money laundering by criminal law into national law

The Commission has decided to open infringement proceedings against PortugalMaltaLatvia and Lithuania, requesting the four countries to communicate all relevant information about how EU rules on combating money laundering by criminal law have been enacted in national law. The rules, set in Directive 2018/1673, define criminal offences and sanctions in the area of money laundering with a view to facilitating police and judicial cooperation between EU countries and avoiding that criminals take advantage of more lenient legal systems. They criminalise money laundering when committed intentionally and with the knowledge that the assets in question came from criminal activity. The deadline to transpose the Directive was 3 December 2020. In line with Court of Justice case law, Member States must indicate in a sufficiently clear and precise manner the national measures by which they transposed obligations imposed by an EU Directive. Portugal, Malta, Latvia and Lithuania notified transposition measures and declared the transposition of the Directive to be complete but failed to indicate in a sufficiently clear and precise manner for each provision of the directive, the national provision or provisions ensuring its transpositionThe Commission has therefore decided to send letters of formal notice to Portugal, Malta, Latvia and Lithuania. The four Member States now have two months to respond to the letter and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

 

Reasoned opinions

Firearms: Commission urges BULGARIA, GREECE, IRELAND and LUXEMBOURG to comply with EU rules on alarm and signal weapons

The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to BulgariaGreeceIreland  and Luxembourg  requesting them to report on how EU rules on alarm and signal weapons (Implementing Directive (EU) 2019/69) have been integrated into their national laws. Together with the Firearms Directive (Directive (EU) 2021/555), these rules aim to prevent the possibility of converting alarm and signal weapons, which only discharge blank ammunition or irritants, into lethal firearms. EU Member States agreed on technical specifications for alarm and signal weapons, including the procedure for checking compliance and the need to exchange information between authorities. EU Member States had to transpose into their national laws the rules on alarm and signal weapons by 17 January 2020. The Commission had sent a letter of formal notice to all four Member States in May 2020. Following today’s reasoned opinion, Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland and Luxembourg now have two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to ensure full implementation. Otherwise, the Commission may refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Firearms: Commission urges BULGARIA, LUXEMBOURG and SWEDEN to comply with the EU rules on the marking of firearms

The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to BulgariaLuxembourg and Sweden, requesting them to report on how EU rules on the marking of firearms and of their essential components (Commission Implementing Directive 2019/68) have been integrated into their national laws.  Together with the Firearms Directive (Directive (EU) 2021/555), these rules ensure that firearms placed on the market have a clear, permanent and unique marking, making it easy to trace firearms across the EU and helping to prevent their diversion in the illicit market. EU Member States had to transpose the rules into their national laws by 17 January 2020. The Commission had sent a letter of formal notice to all three Member States in May 2020. Following today’s reasoned opinion, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Sweden now have two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to ensure full implementation. Otherwise, the Commission may refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Referrals to the Court of Justice

Firearms: Commission refers SWEDEN to Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to transpose EU rules on acquisition and possession of firearms

The Commission has decided today to refer Sweden to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to notify some of the national measures necessary to transpose EU rules on the acquisition and possession of firearms. The Commission has also decided to request the Court to order the payment of financial penalties. The Firearms Directive sets common minimum standards on the acquisition, possession, and commercial exchange within the EU of civilian firearms, for example those used for sport shooting and hunting. The rules allow for the lawful use and movement of firearms while preventing them from falling into the hands of criminals. Today’s referral covers provisions introduced in the 2017 revision of the directive that Member States were required to transpose by 14 September 2018. The referral notably concerns rules on the activities of dealers and brokers, on firearms with high-capacity magazines and detachable loading devices, on semi-automatic firearms and on salute and acoustic weapons, which could easily be converted into lethal firearms. The Commission launched the infringement procedure against Sweden in November 2018 and followed up with a reasoned opinion in July 2019. To date, Sweden has only notified the Commission of partial transposition of the Directive into its national law. More information is available in our press release.

 

Justice

Letters of formal notice

Fight against fraud: Commission urges five Member States to transpose EU rules to fight fraud against the Union’s budget

Today, the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to BelgiumCyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, because they did not correctly transpose EU rules on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law (Directive (EU) 2017/1371). These rules, which are part of the Commission’s overall anti-fraud strategy, protect the EU’s budget by harmonising the definitions, sanctions, jurisdiction rules, and limitation periods related to fraud and other offences affecting the EU’s financial interests. A proper transposition of those rules by the Member States is necessary to enable the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to conduct effective investigations and prosecutions. The deadline to transpose the Directive into national law expired on 6 July 2019. In December 2021, letters of formal notice were already sent to Croatia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Luxemburg, Portugal, Romania and Spain, all of which participate in the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The issues identified mainly relate to the transposition of the Directive’s provisions on the definition of criminal offences (fraud, corruption and misappropriation), attempt, liability of legal persons, sanctions and jurisdiction. The Member States concerned have two months now to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission. After assessing their replies, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion if the conformity issues will not be suitably solved or clarified.

 

Data Protection: Commission launches infringement procedure against SLOVENIA for failing to fulfil its obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation

Today, the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Slovenia for failing to fulfil its notification obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) and for not making it possible for its Data Protection Authority to use all the corrective powers under the GDPR. Following the entry into application of the GDPR more than three years ago, Slovenia is the only Member State that has not adapted its national data protection framework, including the rules on its Data Protection Authority. The Data Protection Authority plays an essential role in ensuring that the GDPR is enforced at national level. It must therefore be able to use all the corrective powers provided under the GDPR. Slovenia now has two months to reply to the Commission’s arguments. After assessing their reply, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion if Slovenia continues to fail meeting its obligations under the GDPR.

 

European Arrest Warrant: Commission opens infringement against BULGARIA and SLOVENIA

The Commission has decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria and Slovenia as a result of their incorrect transposition of the Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant (2002/584/JHA) . The European Arrest Warrant is a simplified cross-border judicial procedure to arrest and surrender a requested person for the purpose of prosecution or execution of a custodial sentence or detention order, based on the principle of mutual recognition. Operational since 1 January 2004, the European Arrest Warrant has replaced the lengthy extradition procedures that used to exist between EU Member States. The Commission already sent letters of formal notice to 22 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden). Some of those Member States already amended the transposing laws. Bulgaria and Slovenia have two months now to reply to the grievances identified by the Commission.

 

Protection of whistleblowers: Commission urges PORTUGAL and SWEDEN to apply without delay EU rules to protect whistleblowers

Today, the European Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Portugal and Sweden as a result of their delayed entry into force of national measures transposing Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (the “Whistleblower Protection Directive”). The deadline for Member States to transpose the Directive was 17 December 2021. The Portuguese transposition law provides that it will enter into force 180 days after its publication, namely on 19 June 2022. The transposition measures adopted by Sweden delay the application of some obligations until 17 July 2022. On 27 January 2022, the Commission already sent letters of formal notice for lack of transposition of the same Directive to the following 24 Member States: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Finland.

Upon receipt of the letters of formal notice, the two Member States have two months to take the necessary measures to remedy the breach of EU law identified by the Commission. Failing this, the Commission may decide to send them a reasoned opinion.

 

Energy and climate

Letters of formal notice

Energy performance of buildings: Commission calls on DENMARK, SWEDEN, MALTA and the NETHERLANDS to fully transpose the amending Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

The Commission decided today to send letters of formal notice to Denmark, Sweden, Malta and the Netherlands for failing to ensure full transposition of the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive (EU) 2018/844), which amended Directive 2010/31/EU and had to be transposed into national law by 10 March 2020. Progress on transposing the 2018 revised Directive is being examined in all Member States. The 22 Member States that had not declared full transposition by the deadline received a letter of formal notice in May 2020. Denmark, Sweden, Malta and the Netherlands declared though full transposition and therefore, did not receive a letter of formal notice back then. However, having examined the national transposition measures notified, the Commission considers that the transposition is not complete in these Member States. They now have two months to reply. Otherwise, in the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

 

Referrals to the Court of Justice

Basic safety standards: Commission decides to refer SPAIN to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully transpose EU radiation protection legislation

Today, the Commission decided to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union due to its failure to fully transpose the revised Basic Safety Standards Directive (Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom). The Directive, which modernises and consolidates EU radiation protection legislation, lays down basic safety standards to protect the general public, workers 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. Member States were required to transpose the Directive by 6 February 2018. In June 2021, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Spain requesting it to notify to the Commission all of its transposition measures for the Directive. To date, the notified national legislation only transposes a minor part of the Directive’s requirements and therefore, the Commission is referring Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Mobility and Transport

Reasoned opinion

Road Safety: Commission asks CZECHIA to correctly transpose the minimum standards of fitness for driving in relation to cardiovascular conditions

The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Czechia requesting that the country is more detailed in its implementation of Directive (EU) 2016/1106. This Directive amends Annex III of the EU Directive on Driving Licences (Directive 2006/126/EC), which sets out the minimum standards of physical and mental fitness to drive. To take into account the evolution of scientific knowledge on medical conditions that affect fitness to drive, and with a view to ensuring a higher level of road safety, the section on cardiovascular diseases has been replaced by more detailed provisions clearly indicating for which conditions driving should be allowed, and in which situations driving licences should not be issued or renewed. The Commission considers that the descriptions of some cardiovascular diseases, provided in Czechia’s transposition, are too generic. They do not reflect the needed clarity of the Directive to improve road safety. Czechia now has two months to respond to the concerns raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may refer it to the Court of Justice of the EU.

 

Competition

Referral to the Court of Justice

Sincere cooperation and primacy of EU law: Commission refers UNITED KINGDOM to Court of Justice of the European Union over a UK judgment allowing enforcement of an arbitral award granting illegal State aid

The Commission has decided to refer the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the European Union in relation to a judgment of its Supreme Court of 19 February 2020 allowing enforcement of an arbitral award ordering Romania to pay compensation to investors, despite a 2015 Commission decision having found that the compensation infringed EU State aid rules. According to the UK Supreme Court, on the basis of Article 351 TFEU, the UK’s EU law obligations at the time did not stand in the way of its alleged international obligation to recognise and enforce the arbitral award under the International Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. When the UK Supreme Court delivered its judgment, proceedings concerning the validity of the Commission’s 2015 decision were pending before the Union Courts. The Commission considers that, in rendering such a judgment, the UK: (i) breached the principle of sincere cooperation, by adjudicating a legal question that was already put before the Union courts; (ii) infringed Article 351 TFEU, by misinterpreting and misapplying that provision in the aforementioned circumstances; (iii) infringed Article 267 TFEU, by failing to make a preliminary reference to the European Court of Justice on the application of Article 351 TFEU; (iv) infringed Article 108(3) TFEU, by failing to respect, regarding the implementation of the arbitral award, the suspensive effect of the Commission’s 2014 decision to open a formal State aid investigation procedure. The Commission considers that the UK Supreme Court judgment has significant implications for the application of EU law to investment disputes and that UK courts’ recognition and enforcement of such awards is incompatible with EU law. In this context, the Commission has recently launched infringement proceedings against those Member States that have failed to terminate their intra-EU bilateral investment treaties. The Commission has therefore decided to refer the UK to the Court of Justice. Under Article 87 of the Withdrawal Agreement, the Commission may, within four years after the end of the transition period, initiate proceedings before the Court of Justice, if it considers that the UK has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties before the end of that period. In accordance with Article 89 of the Withdrawal Agreement, judgments of the Court of Justice in such proceedings have binding force in their entirety on and in the UK. More information is in the press release.

 

Agriculture

Letter of formal notice

Labelling requirements: Commission calls on LITHUANIA to comply with free movement of goods rules

The Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to Lithuania regarding its legislation imposing specific labelling requirements on the quality of meat products (classification of meat products into different categories according to their quality). The Commission considers that by imposing these specific labelling requirements to meat products produced in other Member States, Lithuania has failed to fulfil its obligations under the free movement of goods principle enshrined in Article 34 TFEU. Lithuania now has two months to submit its observations. After examining these observations or if no observations have been submitted within the prescribed time-limit, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion as provided for in Article 258 TFEU.

 

Reasoned opinion

Unfair Trading Practices Directive: Commission calls on CZECHIA and ROMANIA to fully transpose the provisions of the Directive in the agri-food sector

The Commission is calling on Czechia and Romania to fully transpose the provisions of the Unfair Trading Practices Directive in the agri-food sector (Directive (EU) 2019/633). The Directive ensures the protection of all farmers, as well as of small and medium-sized suppliers, against 16 unfair trading practices in the food supply chain. It had to be transposed by 1 May 2021. The Commission had sent letters of formal notice to 12 Member States in July 2021 and has not yet received notification of complete transposition from Czechia and Romania. The Commission has therefore decided to send a reasoned opinion to these Member States, giving them two months to remedy the situation. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer those Member States to the Court of Justice of the European Union.