Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

Brussels, 15 July 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 103 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 fullQ&A. For more detail on all decisions taken, consult the infringement decisions’ register.

1. Environment

Letters of formal notice

Air quality: Commission calls on FINLAND and IRELAND to correctly transpose EU air quality rules

The Commission is calling on Finland(INFR(2022)2029) and Ireland(INFR(2022)2053) to bring national legislation fully in line with EU law on air quality. The European Green Deal, with its Zero Pollution ambition, puts emphasis on cutting air pollution, which is among the key factors affecting human health. Full implementation of the air quality standards enshrined in EU legislation is key to effectively protect human health and safeguard the natural environment. Directive 2008/50/ECon ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, as amended by Commission Directive (EU) 2015/1480, lays down measures aimed at defining and establishing objectives for ambient air quality. These include assessing the ambient air quality in Member States, obtaining information on ambient air quality, ensuring that the information on ambient air quality is made available to the public, maintaining and improving air quality, as well as promoting increased cooperation between the Member States in reducing air pollution. Finland and Ireland have not correctly transposed certain requirements of the Air Quality Directive, for instance with regards to sampling points, data quality objectives, and providing public information. The Commission is therefore sending letters of formal notice to Finland and Ireland, which now have two months to respond and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

 

Urban wastewater: Commission calls on PORTUGAL to comply with EU rules

The Commission is calling on Portugal (INFR(2022)2028) to comply with the requirements established in the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC). Under this Directive, towns and cities are required to put in place the necessary infrastructure in order to collect and treat their urban waste water. Uncollected or untreated waste water can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil and coastal and groundwater. The European Green Deal, with its Zero Pollution ambition, calls for air, water and soil pollution to be reduced to levels no longer considered harmful to human health and natural ecosystems, thereby creating a toxic-free environment and enhancing collective resilience. In Portugal, at least one agglomeration has no collecting system and 62 agglomerations do not meet the treatment standards established by the Directive. The Commission is therefore sending a letter of formal notice to Portugal, which has two months to respond and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

 

Chemicals: Commission calls on BULGARIA to correctly transpose EU legislation on laboratory animals

The Commission is calling on Bulgaria(INFR(2022)2049) to bring its national legislation fully in line with the Laboratory Animals Directive (2010/63/EU). The Directive lays down measures for the protection of animals used for scientific or educational purposes. Bulgaria has not correctly transposed certain requirements of the Directive concerning, for example, the methods of killing, reuse in procedures, project authorisation decisions and withdrawal of authorisation. The Commission is therefore sending a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria, which now has two months to respond and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

 

Industrial emissions: Commission calls on FRANCE to improve its national rules

The Commission is calling on France(INFR(2022)2057)  to bring its national legislation in line with the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED – 2010/75/EU). The Directive lays down rules to prevent and reduce industrial emissions into air, water and land and to prevent the generation of waste, in order to achieve a high level of environmental protection. All installations covered by the directive must operate under a permit and respect the conditions set therein on efficient energy use, waste prevention and management. This contributes to reaching the objectives of reducing air, water and soil pollution to levels no longer considered harmful to human health and natural ecosystems, as set in the European Green Deal, and its Zero Pollution ambition. French legislation, under the so-calleddroit d’antériorité(‘anteriority principle’, or ‘principle of vested rights’), exempts under certain conditions some installations from requiring a permit. The Commission is therefore sending a letter of formal notice to France, which now has 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.

 

Letters of formal noticeunder Article 260(2) TFEU

Water management and nature protection: Commission calls on SPAIN to comply with a judgement of the Court over the deterioration of Doñana National Park

The Commission is calling on Spain(INFR(2014)2090) to implement swiftly and effectively the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 24 June 2021 concerning the Doñana wetlands (Case C-559/19). In its judgement, the Court confirmed that Spain had failed to ensure a sustainable management of the groundwater bodies that feed the Doñana wetlands as required by the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). Furthermore, Spain failed to take adequate steps under the Habitats Directive (1992/43/EEC)to stop the subsequent deterioration of protected natural habitats in several Natura 2000 sites designated by Spanish authorities around and within Doñana National Park. The Court’s decision is consistent with the Commission’s strong commitment to safeguard Doñana’s exceptional natural values for future generations of Europeans. The European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030indicate that it is crucial for the EU to halt biodiversity loss by protecting and restoring biodiversity. Following exchanges of letters with the Spanish authorities and in light of the available scientific information on the issues at stake, the Commission has concluded that the measures put in place by Spain so far are insufficient to end the infringement as declared by the Court. Consequently, the Commission is sending a letter of formal notice, under Article 260(2) TFEU. Spain has now two months to submit its observations on the issues raised by the Commission. After examining these observations, the Commission may refer again the case to the Court as provided for in Article 260(2) TFEU and ask for financial penalties to be imposed upon Spain.

 

Letter of formal notice and reasoned opinions

Nature protection and fisheries: Commission calls on BULGARIA, FRANCE and SPAIN to prevent by-catch of common dolphins and other protected species

The Commission is calling on Bulgaria(INFR(2022)2052), France(INFR(2020)4036) andSpain (INFR(2020)4039)to implement the measures required by the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC)and the Common Fisheries Policy to avoid by-catches of protected species by fishing vessels. Urgent action is needed to comply with the legislation and to ensure consistency with the commitments taken under the European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to reduce by-catch of protected species. Protection and conservation measures for species such as the harbour porpoise, the common and bottlenose dolphins, the loggerhead turtle, the grey seal and seabirds are required under the Habitats Directive and in Natura 2000 sites designated for their protection. Member States need to put in place a system of strict protection and prohibit, in particular, the deliberate capture or killing and disturbance of the species. They also need to monitor by-catch and ensure that it does not have a significant negative impact on the species concerned. Bulgaria has failed to take measures to avoid the disturbance of dolphins and porpoises in Natura 2000 sites as well as failing to properly monitor the by-catch of these protected species in the Black Sea. The country has also failed to correctly transpose the obligation for monitoring of by-catch as required by the Habitats Directive. As part of its actions under the Biodiversity strategy to address the issue of by-catch, the Commission has therefore decided to send a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria, which now has two months to respond and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion. France and Spain have not taken sufficient action to improve the surveillance of conservation status of several species and monitor by-catches in their waters or by their fleets. In addition, they have not taken the necessary steps to avoid disturbance and killing of marine species in Natura 2000 sites. France has also not entirely transposed the obligations of the Habitats Directive related to the establishment of system to monitor by-catch and to take the necessary conservation measures. Specific mitigation measures are also required under the Common Fisheries Policy by the“Technical measures regulation” (Regulation (EU) 2019/1241). France and Spain have not taken the necessary measures advised by science to reduce by-catches, such as time and area closures of fishing activities. They have also failed to ensure effective control and inspection. The Commission sent letters of formal notice to France and Spain in July 2020. However, since then, they have not taken the necessary measures to address these deficiencies. Therefore, the Commission has decided to issue a reasoned opinion to both countries. France and Spain now have 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.

 

Reasoned opinions

Water: Commission calls on HUNGARY to apply EU rules on drinking water

The Commission is calling on Hungary(INFR(2016)2047) to comply with the requirements of the Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC). The Directive requires Member States to ensure that water intended for human consumption is wholesome and clean. According to EU rules, drinking water should be free from micro-organisms and parasites, and from substances that could pose a potential danger to human health. The European Green Deal sets as its ambition an EU with zero pollution, which benefits public health, the environment and climate neutrality. The parametric values for boron, fluoride, nitrite and arsenic in drinking water supplied to the population must be brought in line with those specified in the Directive. After the expiry of a derogation period following Hungary’s accession to the EU, the Commission carried out an investigation, which showed that Hungary was in breach of the Drinking Water Directive in 66 water supply zones. On 27 May 2016, a letter of formal notice was sent and, on 8 December 2017, an additional letter of formal notice was sent to cover additional zones. However, 13 water supply zones still do not comply with the Drinking Water Directive for arsenic and boron. Therefore, the Commission has decided to issue a reasoned opinion to Hungary, which 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.

 

Environmental impact assessment: Commission calls on FRANCE to comply with EU law

The Commission is calling on France (INFR(2019)2021) to bring its national legislation fully in line with the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (Directive 2011/92/EU). The Directive was amended in April 2014 (by Directive 2014/52/EU) to reduce the administrative burden and improve the level of environmental protection, while making business decisions on public and private investments more sound, predictable and sustainable. France has not correctly transposed certain provisions of the amended Directive into national law. For example, it has established specific thresholds for some projects in Guyana that may exclude them from the environmental impact assessment procedure. Also French law does not provide sufficient safeguards to ensure that the authorities carry out their missions objectively. Another shortcoming concerns the incorrect transposition of the Directive’s requirement to update the reasoned conclusion on the environmental effects of the project before granting an authorisation. Finally, French legislation does not require the project developer to inform the authority about the results of other relevant assessments of the effects on the environment.  The Commission already sent a letter of formal notice to France followed by an additional one. Given that environmental governance plays an essential role in allowing the proper functioning of the various sectoral rules, the Commission has therefore decided to issue a reasoned opinion to France, which 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

Environmental impact assessment: Commission takes GREECE to the Court of Justice of the European Union

The European Commission has decided today to refer Greece (INFR(2019)2217) to the Court for its failure to correctly transpose the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (2011/92/EUas amended by Directive 2014/52/EU), which obliges Member States to carry out an environmental impact assessment for certain large infrastructure projects. Several provisions of the EIA directive are still not transposed or are incorrectly transposed in Greek legislation. The Commission sent a letter of formal noticeto Greece in October 2019, followed by a reasoned opinion in December 2020. Despite some progress, the Greek authorities have not yet fully addressed the grievances. The Commission is therefore referring Greece to the Court of Justice of the European Union. More information is in the press release.

 

2. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Letters of formal notice

Regulated professions: Commission calls on CYPRUS toensure that new requirements for professions are necessary and balanced

Today, the Commission has decided to open an infringement procedure against Cyprus(INFR(2022)2055) regarding non-compliance of the national measures implementing the EU Directive on a proportionality test before adoption of new regulation of professions. These rules require Member States to make sure that any requirements for professions they introduce are necessary and balanced. The aim is to prevent unnecessarily burdensome national rules, which can make it difficult for qualified candidates to access or exercise a wide range of professions. The same legal actions were already taken against 20 Member States in December 2021 and February 2022. According to the Commission, Cyprus has failed to consider measures introduced by professional associations or bodies and initiatives from the parliament under the obligations of the Directive. It failed to accurately transpose the proportionality assessment and did not ensure that all requirements are to be assessed when examining the combined effect of the new provisions and existing rules. Lastly, Cyprus failed to ensure the appropriate information and timely involvement of all parties involved. Cyprus has two months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send to Cyprus a reasoned opinion.

 

Procurement and concession contracts: Commission urges THE NETHERLANDS to comply with EU rules

Today, the Commission decided to open an infringement procedure against The Netherlands (INFR(2022)2054) regarding the conformity of its national legislation with EU rules on public procurement and concessions. EU Directives2014/25/EUand2014/23/EU lay down the rules for procurement in the utilities sectors. Following a thorough analysis of the Dutch implementing legislation, the Commission has doubts as to its compliance with the applicable rules as regards to their scope, in particular for postal services. Furthermore, according to the Commission, the conditions under which contracting entities with special and exclusive rights are exempted from the procurement rules do not comply with the Directives. The Netherlands has now two months to reply to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send to the Netherlands a reasoned opinion.

 

Internal Market: Commission calls on HUNGARY to comply with free movement rules and respect the principle of non-discrimination

Today, the Commission decided to open an infringement procedure against Hungary(INFR(2022)4076) for having introduced measures going against Internal Market provisions. Hungary imposes different fuel prices for vehicles with a foreign number plate and vehicles with Hungarian number plates. Vehicles with Hungarian number plates, including tractors and agricultural machinery with Hungarian documents, are entitled to lower official fuel prices by 60 to 70%. In contrast, all other vehicles with a foreign number plate cannot benefit from such reduced prices. The Commission is requesting the Hungarian authorities to comply with EU law provisions with regard to the free movement of goods and services including transport services, the freedom of establishment, the free movement of citizens and workers, the principle of non-discrimination as well as rules on notifications under the Single Market Transparency Directive. Ensuring the proper functioning of the Single Market is of particular importance in the current geopolitical situation as it represents the main instrument to overcome the current economic disruptive effects resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Acting unilaterally at national level and introducing discriminatory treatments goes against the principles of free movement in the Single Market and cannot constitute a solution. Hungary has now two months to address the concerns raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion to Hungary.

 

Reasoned opinions

Public procurement: Commission urges AUSTRIA to comply with EU rules

Today, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Austria (INFR(2018)2161) prompting it to ensure correct implementation of Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement. In particular, the award of printing services for security printing to Österreichische Staatsdruckerei was not run in line with the obligations under the European public procurement rules. Austria tendered out printing services for security documents such as ID cards in a way that contains elements of discrimination. EU public procurement rules apply to public contracts above a certain threshold, which have to be put out to tender respecting the principles of transparency, equal treatment, free competition, and non-discrimination. Austria has now two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

3. Migration, Home Affairs and Security Union

Letters of formal notice

Fight against child sexual abuse: Commission calls on IRELAND, ITALY, PORTUGAL and SPAIN to comply with the Directive on combating child sexual abuse and exploitation of children

The European Commission decided today to open infringement procedures by sending a letter of formal notice to Ireland (INFR(2019)2235) and the additional letters of formal notice to Italy (INFR(2018)2335), Portugal (INFR(2018)2334), Spain (INFR(2018)2197), for failing to implement the provisions of the Directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography (Directive 2011/93/EU). The Directive is an essential part of the EU’s legal framework in the fight against child sexual abuse. It requires Member States to introduce minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and solicitation of children for sexual purposes. It also introduces provisions to strengthen the prevention of those crimes and the protection of victims. The Commission considers that Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain have incorrectly transposed certain provisions of the Directive regarding the definition of certain offences, prevention and assistance to victims. Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain now have two months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

 

4. Justice

Reasoned opinions

Protection of whistleblowers: European Commission takes next step in the infringement procedure against 15 Member States

Today, the European Commission has decided to take further steps in the infringement procedures against Bulgaria (INFR(2022)0021),  Czechia (INFR(2022)0043), Estonia (INFR(2022)0055), Finland (INFR(2022)0079), France (INFR(2022)0083), Germany (INFR(2022)0052), Greece (INFR(2022)0061), Hungary (INFR(2022)0093), Ireland (INFR(2022)0098), Italy (INFR(2022)0106), Luxembourg (INFR(2022)0119), The Netherlands (INFR(2022)0143), Poland (INFR(2022)0150), Slovakia (INFR(2022)0188) and Spain (INFR(2022)0073), by issuing reasoned opinions for failing to fully transpose the Directive on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law (EU Directive 2019/1937).

The deadline for Member States to transpose the Directive was 17 December 2021. In January 2022, the Commission sent letters of formal notice to 24 Member States for failing to transpose and communicate the transposition measures to the Commission within the deadline. Out of those, the 15 Member States referred to have still not adopted transposition measures and have two months to reply to the Commission’s reasoned opinions. If the replies are not satisfactory, the Commission may decide to refer the concerned Member States to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Rule of Law: EU Commission adopts next step in the infringement procedure against POLAND for violations of EU law by the Constitutional Tribunal

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Poland (INFR(2021)2261) regarding the Polish Constitutional Tribunal and its recent case law. On 22 December 2021, the European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Poland, raising concerns about the case law of the Constitutional Tribunal, in particular its rulings of 14 July 2021 and 7 October 2021. The Constitutional Tribunal in these rulings considered the provisions of the EU Treaties incompatible with the Polish Constitution, and in so doing, according to the Commission, it breached Article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union and the general principles of autonomy, primacy, effectiveness, uniform application of Union law and the binding effect of rulings of the Court of Justice. In the same letter of formal notice, the Commission also considered that Poland has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union since, due to the irregularities in the appointment procedures of three judges in December 2015 and in the selection of the President in December 2016, the Constitutional Tribunal no longer meets the requirement of an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law. The reply of Poland to the letter of formal notice, received on 18 February 2022, did not address the Commission’s concerns. For this reason, today the Commission has decided to advance with the next step in the infringement procedure by sending a reasoned opinion to Poland. Poland has now two months to take the necessary measures to comply with EU law, otherwise the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice.

 

Data Protection: Commission urges SLOVENIAto fulfil its obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation

Today, the European Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Slovenia(INFR(2021)2269) for failing to implement important obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679), as well as for not making it possible for its Data Protection Authority to use all the corrective powers under the GDPR. The Commission considers that Slovenia has failed to fulfil its obligations stemming from the GDPR due to its persistent failure to reform its pre-GDPR national data protection framework. On 9 February 2022, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Slovenia asking it to adapt its national data protection framework, including the rules on its Data Protection Authority, and to enable it to exercise effectively all the corrective powers provided under the GDPR. Slovenia’s reply to the letter of formal notice did not sufficiently address the Commission’s concerns. Therefore, the Commission has decided to send Slovenia a reasoned opinion. Slovenia now has two months to reply to the Commission’s reasoned opinion. If the reply is not satisfactory, the Commission may decide to bring this matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Referrals to the Court of Justice

Commission refers HUNGARY to the Court over violation of LGBTIQ rights

The Commission today decided to referHungary (INFR(2021)2130) to the Court of Justice of the EU over a Hungarian law which discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The Commission considers that the law violates the internal market rules, the fundamental rights of individuals (in particular LGBTIQ people) as well as – with regard to those fundamental rights – the EU values. The Hungarian law, in particular, singles out and targets content that ‘promotes or portrays’ what it refers to as ‘divergence from self-identity corresponding to sex at birth, sex change or homosexuality’ for individuals under 18. This referral to Court is the next step of the infringement procedure launched by the Commission on 15 July 2021 against Hungary with a letter of formal notice. As the Hungarian authorities did not sufficiently respond to the concerns of the Commission in relation to equality and the protection of fundamental rights, and did not include any commitment to remedy the incompatibility, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Hungary on 2 December 2021. The protection of children is an absolute priority for the EU and for its Member States. However, the Hungarian law contains provisions which are not justified on the basis of promoting this fundamental interest or are disproportionate to achieve the stated objective. The full press release is available online.

5. Energy and climate

Letters of formal notice

Basic safety standards: Commission calls on BELGIUM to correctly transpose EU radiation protection legislation

The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Belgium (INFR(2022)2058) requesting the correct transposition of the revisedBasic Safety Standards Directive (Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom) into its national legislation. Member States were required to transpose the Directive by 6 February 2018. However, the Commission considers that Belgium has still not complied with certain requirements of the law. The Directive modernises and consolidates EU radiation protection legislation, and lays down basic safety standards to protect members of the 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. Belgium now has two months to reply and address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. Otherwise, in the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

 

Reasoned opinions

Renewable energy: Commission urges ITALY, MALTA and SLOVENIA to fully transpose the Renewable Energy Directive

The Commission decided today to send reasoned opinions to Italy (INFR(2021)0266), Malta (INFR(2021)0302), and Slovenia (INFR(2021)0350) for not having fully transposed EU rules on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources set out in Directive (EU) 2018/2001. This Directive provides the legal framework for the development of renewable energy in electricity, heating and cooling, and transport in the EU. It sets an EU-level binding target for 2030 of at least 32% renewable energy and includes measures to ensure support for renewable energy is cost-effective, and to simplify administrative procedures for renewable energy projects. It also facilitates the participation of citizens in the energy transition, and sets specific targets to increase the share of renewables in the heating and cooling and transport sectors by 2030. The deadline to transpose the Directive into national law was 30 June 2021. In July 2021, the Commission sent letters of formal notice to all three Member States. To date, Italy, Malta and Slovenia have only partially transposed the Directive. They now have two months to comply with the transposition obligation and notify the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Energy performance of buildings: Commission urges BULGARIA, CZECHIA, ESTONIA, FINLAND and LATVIA to fully transpose the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

The Commission decided today to issue reasoned opinions to Bulgaria(INFR(2020)0150), Czechia(INFR(2020)0161), Estonia(INFR(2020)0170), Finland(INFR(2020)0181) and Latvia(INFR(2020)0221) for failing to ensure full transposition into national law of Directive (EU) 2018/844 on the energy performance of buildings. The Directive introduced new elements to strengthen the existing framework, such as minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings, electro-mobility and recharging points, and new rules on the inspection of heating and air-conditioning systems. The deadline to transpose the Directive into national law expired on 10 March 2020. In May 2020, a letter of formal notice was sent to these Member States after they failed to declare full transposition of the Directive. Having examined the national transposition measures notified, the Commission considers that Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Finland and Latvia have still not fully transposed the Directive. They now have two months to comply with the transposition obligation and notify the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Energy efficiency: Commission urges BELGIUM to fully transpose the Energy Efficiency Directive

The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Belgium(INFR(2020)0502) for failing to ensure full transposition of the Energy Efficiency Directive (Directive (EU) 2018/2002). This Directive seeks to establish a common framework of measures to promote energy efficiency, and sets a binding EU energy efficiency target for 2030 of at least 32,5%. Member States were required to transpose the Directive by 25 October 2020. Belgium, having not declared full transposition of the revised Energy Efficiency Directive by the deadline, received a letter of formal notice in November 2020. After examination of the national transposition measures, the Commission considers that the transposition is still not complete. Belgium now has two months to reply. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

6. Taxation and Customs Union

Reasoned opinions

Taxation: Commission takes further action against GREECE for failure to comply with the EU VAT rules on postal services

The Commission has today decided to send a reasoned opinion to Greece (INFR(2020)4049) for not properly applying the VAT rules on postal services included in the VAT Directive (Council Directive 2006/112/EC) and clarified by the Court of Justice of the European Union (C-357/07 of 23 April 2009 and additionally C-4/18  of 16 October 2019). This Directive provides for a VAT exemption of certain postal services to encourage specific activities in the public interest. To this end, postal services that meet the essential needs of the population (services referred to asuniversal postal services) are VAT exempted and thus offered at a reduced cost. By contrast, postal services for which the terms have been individually negotiated with the customers, such as bulk mail, special discounts, commercial agreements with specific organisations, and other services which are not part of the universal postal services do not qualify for the VAT exemption. Greece exempts from VAT all postal services provided by the Hellenic Post ‘ΕΛΤΑ’, including those not comprised within the universal postal services. For this reason, Greece has failed to fulfil its obligations under the VAT Directive. If Greece does not provide a satisfactory response within the next two months, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Taxation: Commission urges CYPRUS to transpose new rules on temporary VAT exemptions on importations and on certain supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Commission has today sent a reasoned opinion to Cyprus(INFR(2022)0039) for failing to notify the measures for the transposition into national law of Council Directive 2021/1159 laying down the temporary VAT exemptions on imports and on certain supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Directive is providing temporary measures that aim to help with the sanitary crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Member States should have adopted and published the necessary national provisions by 31 December 2021. In January 2022, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to eight Member States including Cyprus on the matter. To date, Cyprus notified no transposition measures to the Commission. Cyprus has now two months to respond and take the necessary measures after which the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Taxation: Commission urges GREECE, LATVIA and PORTUGAL to transpose new rules on excise duties

The Commission has today decided to send reasoned opinions to Greece (INFR(2022)0063),  Latvia (INFR(2022)0128), and Portugal (INFR(2022)0160) for failing to notify the measures for the transposition into national law of Directive (EU) 2020/262  laying down the general arrangements for excise duty (recast). This Directive, which repeals and replaces Directive 2008/118/EC, sets out common provisions applicable to all products subject to excise duties. It lays down a series of new rules, which will be applicable from 13 February 2023. Member States were required to transpose this Directive by 31 December 2021. In January 2022, the Commission sent letters of formal notice to sixteen Member States including Greece, Latvia and Portugal on the matter. To date, Greece, Latvia and Portugal notified no transposition measures to the Commission. These Member States have now two months to comply with the transposition obligation and notify the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Taxation: Commission urges PORTUGAL to transpose new EU rules on excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages

The Commission has today decided to send a reasoned opinion to Portugal (INFR(2022)0162) for failing to ensure the transposition of thenew EU rules on the harmonisation of the structures of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages (Council Directive 2020/1151). The Directive sets up an EU-wide certification system for small and artisan alcohol producers, which facilitates their access to low excise duty rates across the Union. Member States were required to transpose this Directive by 31 December 2021. In January 2022, the Commission sent letters of formal notice to 11 Member States, including Portugal, after they had failed to fully transpose the Directive. To date, Portugal notified no transposition measures to the Commission. Portugal has now two months to comply with the transposition obligation and notify the Commission, after which the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Taxation: Commission urges GREECE and SPAIN to communicate measures implementing rules on hybrid mismatches with third countries from the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive

The European Commission has today sent reasoned opinions to Greece (INFR(2022)0058) and Spain (INFR(2022)0070) for failing to communicate the required national measures implementing Article 9a of Council Directive (EU) 2017/952 on amending Directive (EU) 2016/1164, as regards reverse hybrid mismatches. These rules prevent taxpayers from exploiting the differences between tax systems to pay less or no tax and prevent tax base erosion for Member States. The deadline for communicating the rules was 31 December 2021. In the absence of full communication of all national implementing measures, the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

7. Mobility and Transport

Letters of formal notice

Inland navigation: Commission calls on SLOVENIA and SPAIN to transpose new EU legislation on the recognition of professional qualifications

The Commission today decided to send letters of formal notice to Slovenia(INFR(2022)2041) and Spain(INFR(2022)2042), for failure to transpose into national law the new EU rules on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation (Directive (EU) 2017/2397). The Directive sets up a harmonised system for the certification and recognition of persons operating craft on inland waterways, allowing certificate-holders to operate throughout the EU. The deadline to transpose the Directive expired on 17 January 2022. Slovenia and Spain now have two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission, otherwise the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

 

Inland navigation: Commission calls on AUSTRIA, CROATIA, GERMANY and HUNGARY to act on the basis of the EU position within the Danube Commission

The Commission today decided to send letters of formal notice to Austria(INFR(2022)2045), Croatia(INFR(2022)2047), Germany(INFR(2022)2046) and Hungary(INFR(2022)2048) to urge them to fulfil their obligation under the EU treaties when adopting, within the Danube Commission, recommendations on matters that may affect EU rules or alter their scope. At the 96thDanube Commission’s Plenary, these four Member States voted in favour of a decision related to the recognition of third country certificates (regulated within the EU by Directive (EU) 2017/2397 as amended by Directive (EU) 2021/1233), without a pre-established EU position. Since the EU has exclusive external competence on these matters, those Member States were not permitted to act unilaterally, even in the absence of an EU position. Pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation, the EU and the Member States shall, in full mutual respect, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties. The four Member States now have two months to reply to the letters of formal notice, otherwise the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

 

Reasoned opinions

Road transport: Commission calls on CZECHIA and LATVIA to fully transpose European Electronic Tolling Service (EETS) legislation

The Commission today decided to send reasoned opinions to Czechia(INFR(2021)0520) and Latvia(INFR(2021)0535), for failing to notify the Commission of complete transposition of the European Electronic Tolling Service (EETS) Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/520) into national law. The EETS is a tolling system, for which EU road-users can pay with one subscription contract, one service provider and one on-board unit that covers all Member States. The Directive has two objectives: to ensure interoperability between electronic road toll systems and to facilitate the cross-border exchange of information on failure to pay road fees. The transposition deadline for this Directive elapsed on 19 October 2021. Today’s reasoned opinions follow letters of formal notice sent by the Commission in November 2021. Failure to completely transpose these rules presents an obstacle to interoperability between electronic road toll systems in the Member States, and to cross-border enforcement of the obligation to pay road fees in the EU. Without a satisfactory response from these Member States within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Road Safety: Commission urges six Member States to comply with revised Directive on road infrastructure safety management   

The Commission today decided to send reasoned opinions to Greece(INFR(2022)0060), TheNetherlands(INFR(2022)0142), Poland(INFR(2022/0149), Portugal(INFR(2022)0158), Slovakia(INFR(2022)0187) and Slovenia(INFR(2022)0180) for failing to fully transpose the revised European legislation on road infrastructure safety management. The amendment to Directive 2008/96/EC, adopted in 2019with extended scope, requires the establishment and implementation of procedures for road safety impact assessments, road safety audits, road safety inspections and network-wide road safety assessments by the Member States. These ensure that roads are safe, also taking into account the needs of vulnerable road users. All of these obligations were to be transposed by 17 December 2021. Today’s reasoned opinions follow letters of formal notice sent by the Commission in January 2022. Greece, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia now have two months to notify the Commission of the measures taken to ensure the full transposition of the Directive, after which time the Commission may refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Maritime transport: Commission calls on CYPRUS to transpose EU rules on the minimum level of training of seafarers and on the mutual recognition of seafarers’ certificates issued by the Member States

The Commission today decided to address a reasoned opinion to Cyprus(INFR(2021)0384) for failing to communicate to the Commission its national measures to transpose EU rules on the minimum level of training of seafarers (Directive (EU) 2019/1159). This Directive improves EU seafarers’ level of knowledge and skills by developing maritime training and certification that is in line with the Convention on the International Maritime Organization. Member States needed to adopt the measures by 2 August 2021 to comply with EU legislation. Cyprus now has two months to reply to the reasoned opinion, or the Commission may refer it to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Referrals to the Court of Justice

Single European Sky: Commission decides to refer GREECE, MALTA and SLOVAKIA to the Court for failure to comply with EU rules on the provision of data link services

The Commission today decided to refer Greece(INF(2020)2050), Malta(INF(2020)2052) and Slovakia(INF(2020)2056)) to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to provide and operate data link services for operators of aircraft flying within the airspace under their responsibility. The deadline for the air traffic service providers to operate data link services has expired and a lack of equipment in certain control centres is effectively preventing aircraft operators, which were also required to equip themselves with the technology, from using data link services. The Commission opened infringement proceedings in May 2020 and sent reasoned opinions in July 2021. Since those Member States are yet to comply with the Regulation, the Commission has now decided to refer the cases to the Court of Justice. You can find the full press release here.

 

8. Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

Reasoned opinions

Anti-Money Laundering: Commission urges ROMANIA to amend its transposition of the 5thAnti-Money Laundering Directive

The Commission has today sent a reasoned opinion to Romania(INFR(2020)2358) on grounds of its incorrect transposition of the 5thAnti-Money Laundering Directive (5thAMLD). Romanian authorities have exempted several categories of corporate and other legal entities from the obligation to declaring their beneficial owners (their “real owners”) to a central register. These exemptions are not envisaged by the Directive. The 5th AMLD enhances the EU standards in respect of transparency of beneficial ownership information and its inclusion in national central registers. It requires Member States to ensure that corporate and other legal entities incorporated within their territory obtain and hold adequate, accurate and current information on their beneficial ownership, including the details of the beneficial interests held. Anti-money laundering rules are instrumental in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. Legislative gaps occurring in one Member State have an impact on the EU as a whole. That is why EU rules should be implemented and supervised efficiently in order to combat crime and protect our financial system. Romania has 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.

 

Commission urges ITALY and ROMANIA to update national laws removing regulatory barriers under the Cross-border Distribution of Funds Directive

The Commission has today sent a reasoned opinion to Italy(INFR(2021)0449) and Romania(INFR(2021)0495) for failing to fully transpose Directive 2019/1160/EU, which amends the Directive on coordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS Directive 2009/65/EC) and the Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFMD Directive 2011/61/EU) with regard to cross-border distribution of collective investment undertakings. As regards Italy, the Commission considers that the majority of the provisions of the Directive still lack transposition. In particular, the Italian Companies and Exchange Commission (CONSOB) has still to adopt secondary regulations and notify them to the Commission. As regards Romania, the authorities have acknowledged the lack of complete transposition. The Cross-Border Distribution of Funds Directive aims at removing regulatory barriers to the distribution of the collective investment funds, which is one of the objectives of the Capital Markets Union. These rules aim at increasing transparency and creating a single access to information on national rules related to marketing requirements, regulatory fees and charges levied by national competent authorities. The Directive also allows for simpler exit of the host market (de-notification), and permits management companies to choose more flexible and cheaper ways of communication and provision of administrative services to retail investors in other Member States. Italy and Romania have two months to reply respectively, and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Audit: Commission urges ITALY to complete the transposition of the Audit Directive

The Commission has sent today a reasoned opinion to Italy (INFR(2021)2170)for failing to notify measures for the transposition into national law of some articles of theAudit Directive (Directive 2014/56/EU).The Commission considers that several provisions of the Directive have not been transposed by Italy. These relate to the designation of only one competent authority bearing the ultimate responsibility for the oversight tasks of statutory auditors, the conditions for the registration of third country auditors and audit entities, and the conditions to be respected when exchanging audit working papers or other relevant documents for the quality assessment of the audit performed with third country competent authorities. The role of a statutory audit is to certify the financial statements of companies. An audit provides stakeholders such as investors and shareholders with an opinion on the accuracy of companies’ accounts. As a result, statutory audits contribute to the orderly functioning of markets by improving the confidence in the integrity of financial statements. Therefore, complete and correct transposition is of outmost importance. Italy has now 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.

 

9. Digital economy

Reasoned opinions

Copyright: Commission urges CZECHIA to fully transpose EU copyright rules into national law

Today, the Commission has decided to send two reasoned opinions toCzechia INFR(2021)0185 and INFR(2021)0184, over their failure to notify the Commission of transposition measures under two Directives, firstly with respect to copyright and related rights applicable to certain online transmissions (Directive (EU) 2019/789), and secondly, on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (Directive (EU) 2019/790). These two Directives aim to modernise copyright rules for consumers and creators to make the most of the digital world. They protect rightholders from different sectors, stimulating the creation and circulation of more high-value content. They bring greater choice of content for users by lowering transaction costs and facilitating the distribution of radio and television programmes across the EU. After the transposition deadline expired on 7 June 2021, the Commission opened the infringement procedure on 23 July 2021 by sending letters of formal notice to the Member States that did not communicate complete transposition of the two Directives. The reasoned opinions sent today are part of the wider package of infringements concerning the lack of complete transposition of the two directives by Member States; on 19 May 2022, the Commission followed up with reasoned opinions to 10 Member States over failure to notify the national measures transposing Directive (EU) 2019/789 and to 13 Member States regarding Directive (EU) 2019/790. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

Referrals to the Court of Justice

Media freedom: the Commission refers HUNGARY to the Court for failure to comply with EU electronic communications rules

Today, the Commission has decided to refer Hungary(INFR(2021)2065) to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to respond to the Commission’s concerns regarding the Hungarian Media Council’s decision to reject Klubradio’s application for the use of radio spectrum on highly questionable grounds. The Commission believes that Hungary is in breach of EU law by applying disproportionate and non-transparent conditions to the renewal of Klubradio’s rights to use radio spectrum. Moreover, the Commission considers that Hungary applied the relevant rules, set out in the European Electronic Communications Code (Directive (EU) 2018/1972), in a disproportionate and discriminatory manner and that Hungary failed to adopt timely decisions. Following the reasoned opinion sent to Hungary on 2 December 2021, the exchange with Hungary did not resolve the concerns raised by the Commission. As a result, the Commission is referring Hungary to the Court. You will find a press release here.

 

10. Jobs and social rights

Letters of formal notice

Labour mobility: Commission calls on BELGIUM to grant first-time EU jobseekers the right to reside in the country for a reasonable period of time to look for a job

The Commission today decided to send a letter of formal notice to Belgium(INFR(2022)4023)because it considers that Belgium’s rules for first-time EU jobseekers are contrary to EU law. EU citizens have the right to reside in another Member State for three months, with the only requirement being to hold a valid identity document. After three months, EU countries should allow EU jobseekers, who look for a job in that Member State for the first time, to stay for a reasonable period of time after they have registered with the employment services. This should allow them to find a job offer corresponding to their qualifications and to take the necessary steps to start the job. After that period, host Member States can require that jobseekers prove their genuine chances of finding a job if they want to stay longer. Belgian law, however, requires EU jobseekers to deliver this proof already after the first three months of residence. The Court of Justice of the European Union clarified in December 2020 the interpretation of EU rules on this matter (Case C-710/19). The Court ruled that host Member States are required to grant EU first-time jobseekers a reasonable period of time for their job search. Based on this interpretation, the Commission considers that the Belgian rules are contrary to EU law. Belgium has two months now to take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

 

EU labour law: Commission calls on ITALY to bring its legislation on working conditions for honorary magistrates in line with EU law

The Commission decided today to send an additional letter of formal notice to Italy(INFR(2016)4081) because it considers that Italy’s national legislation applying to honorary magistrates still does not fully comply with EU labour law. In the Commission’s view, the Italian legislation fails to comply with EU rules on fixed-term work, on part-time work, on working time and on pregnant workers (Framework Agreement annexed to Directive 1999/70/EC,Framework Agreement annexed to Directive 97/81/EC,Directive 2003/88/EC,Directive 92/85/EEC, respectively). Several categories of honorary magistrates – honorary justices of the peace, honorary deputy prosecutors, and honorary court judges – do not enjoy the status of a ‘worker’ under Italian national law, and are considered volunteers providing services on an ‘honorary’ basis. Because of this, they do not enjoy protection granted to workers under EU labour law, leading for instance to a lack of allowances in case of illness, accidents and pregnancy, to differences in pay, and to tax discrimination. Honorary magistrates are also not sufficiently protected against the abuse of successive fixed-term contracts, and they do not have the possibility to obtain proper compensation for such abuse. Furthermore, Italy has not set up a system to measure the daily working time of each honorary magistrate. This additional letter of formal notice adds to an infringement procedure, which the Commission opened on 15 July 2021. Italy amended its legislation in December 2021. However, the Commission considers that these amendments do not fully address the infringements to EU law identified initially and they raise new grievances. Italy will have two months now to take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

 

Reasoned opinions

Health and safety at work: Commission calls on CYPRUS to transpose rules on medical treatment on board of vessels

The Commission today decided to send a reasoned opinion to Cyprus(INFR(2022)0031) for failing to communicate to the Commission its national measures to transpose EU rules on medical treatment on board of vessels (Commission Directive (EU) 2019/1834). The Directive updates two Annexes ofDirective 92/29/EEC, which lays down minimum safety and health requirements for improved medical treatment for people working on board of a vessel. Directive 92/29/EEC applies to any vessel flying the flag of a Member State. It lists for instance the medical supplies required on board. Vessels constitute a workplace involving a wide range of risks, bearing in mind, for example, their geographical isolation. The updates of this Directive mainly concern the adaptation of descriptions of medicines and removing obsolete references to medical supplies. Member States had to transpose the Directive into national law by 20 November 2021, and Cyprus failed to confirm the transposition of the new rules to the Commission. Cyprus now has two months to reply to the reasoned opinion. Otherwise, the Commission may refer it to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

EU labour law: The Commission calls on PORTUGAL to bring its legislation on employment conditions for fixed-term teachers in line with EU law

The Commission today decided to send a reasoned opinion to Portugal(INFR(2021)4050) for failing to comply with EU law on fixed-term work (Framework Agreement annexed toCouncil Directive 1999/70/EC). Portuguese law contains less favourable employment conditions for fixed-term teachers working in Portuguese public schools compared to permanent teachers in these schools, notably in relation to salary and seniority. In the Commission’s view, this implies a breach of the principle of non-discrimination, according to which fixed-term workers shall not be treated less favourably than comparable permanent workers – unless those differences in treatment are justified on objective grounds. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Portugal on the matter in November 2021. In its reply, Portugal was not able to justify the differences in treatment, as requested by the Framework Agreement. Portugal will have two months now to take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the country to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

11. Defence Industry and Space

Reasoned opinions

Defence market: Commission urges HUNGARY to transpose rules on the intra-EU transfers of defence-related products  

The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Hungary (INFR(2021)0530) for not having fully transposed the Delegated Directive (EU) 2021/1047 updating the list of defence-related products in line with the updated Common Military List of the European Union.Directive 2009/43/EC defines terms and conditions for the transfer of defence related products in the European Union. The Annex to this Directive refers to the Common Military List of the European Union and is regularly updated. The Council updated this list on 17 February 2020, followed by the adoption of the Commission’s Delegated Directive (EU) 2021/1047. Member States had until 30 September 2021 to transpose the Delegated Directive. In November 2021, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary. To date, Hungary has not transposed the Directive. Hungary has now two months to comply with the transposition obligation and notify its national measures to the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

12.Agriculture and Rural Development

Letter of formal notice

Agriculture: Commission asks HUNGARY to remove export restrictions for cereals

Today, the Commission has decided to open an infringement procedure against Hungary (INFR(2022)2066) regarding a prior notification scheme of cereal export, introduced by the Hungarian authorities. The prior notification allows the authorities to pre-empt the sale or to purchase the cereals to be exported, before the export takes place. The Commission considers the measure to be incompatible with EU rules on the common organisation of markets and on common rules for exports. According to the Commission, the Hungarian measure cannot be justified by the pursuit at national level of special economic objectives to be attained at Union level and, in any event, there is currently no need for any action pursuing security of supply of cereals within the EU. Hungary now has two months to reply to the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send Hungary a reasoned opinion.

Source – EU Commission