Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Brussels, 1 June 2023

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 62 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.

1. Environment
Environmental impact assessment: Commission calls on BELGIUM to fully transpose EU law

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Belgium (INFR(2020)2344) to bring its national legislation in line with the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment).

The Directive was revised in April 2014, reducing the administrative burden and improving the level of environmental protection, while making business decisions on public and private investments more sound, predictable and sustainable.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Belgium in December 2020. Having analysed Belgium’s replies and amendments to its national (federal and regional) laws, the Commission recognises that a significant number of shortcomings in the transposition of the Directive have been remedied through the adoption of new legislation. However, some issues remain such as in relation to transboundary consultations. Therefore, the Commission considers that the Directive is not yet fully correctly transposed in Belgium.

Thus, the Commission has decided to issue a reasoned opinion. Belgium 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.

Air quality: Commission calls on BULGARIA to remove barriers to access to justice in relation to air quality plans

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria (INFR(2020)2106) for failing to remove barriers to access to justice in relation to air quality plans under the Air Quality Directive (Directive 2008/50/EC). When the limit values set by EU legislation are exceeded, the Directive requires Member States to adopt air quality plans and set appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. The Directive and the Aarhus Convention, to which the EU and all the Member States are parties, require that individuals directly concerned and environmental organisations are allowed to require public authorities to establish an air quality plan and to challenge air quality plans and their contents before national courts.

Bulgaria has not ensured that environmental organisations or natural and legal persons are allowed to bring an action before the national courts. Such a possibility ensures that they can challenge the lack of air quality plans or their insufficiency to address air pollution. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria in May 2020. Furthermore, a final judgment of the national Court in 2021 confirmed the practice of denying access to justice regarding air quality plans. The Commission has therefore decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria, 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 noise: Commission calls on AUSTRIA to fully transpose EU rules on environmental noise

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Austria (INFR(2022)0008) for failing to update its national laws and transpose EU rules on environmental noise. Directive 2002/49/EC defines a common approach intended to avoid, prevent or reduce harmful effects due to exposure to environmental noise. In 2020, the Directive was amended by Directive (EU) 2021/1226 to adapt it to technical and scientific progress. The amendments concern assessment methods for the noise indicators and harmful effects of noise. As noise pollution is an important environmental determinant of public health; reducing it is an important aim of the European Green Deal, with its Zero Pollution ambition.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Austria in January 2022 for failure to communicate transposition measures for this Directive (EU) 2021/1226. To date, Austria acknowledges that it still has not communicated all the transposition measures for this Directive and that the transposition remains partial.

Therefore, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Austria, 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.

Air quality: Commission calls on ROMANIA to establish a functional air quality monitoring network

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Romania (INFR(2017)2024) for systemically failing to monitor air pollution as required by EU legislation on ambient air quality (Directive 2004/107/EC and Directive 2008/50/EC). These Directives require Member States to set up a monitoring network to assess ambient air quality with respect to the various pollutants in line with the requirements provided therein.

Full implementation of the air quality standards enshrined in EU legislation is key to effectively protect human health and safeguard the natural environment. The European Green Deal, with its Zero Pollution ambition, puts emphasis on cutting air pollution, which is among the key factors affecting human health.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Romania in June 2017 and an additional letter of formal notice in July 2019. Although Romania has been carrying out an overhaul of its air quality monitoring network, many gaps remain concerning the appropriate number and type of air quality sampling points. These shortcomings amount to a systemic failure to comply with obligations to monitor air pollution.

Therefore, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Romania, 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.

Referral to the Court of Justice

Urban waste water: Commission decides to refer ITALY back to the Court of Justice for failing to properly treat urban waste water

Today, the European Commission decided to refer Italy (INFR(2009)2034) back to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully comply with a 2014 Court judgment on urban waste water treatment. The Court found that Italy had breached its obligations under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Council Directive 91/271/EEC) as 41 agglomerations failed to ensure that urban waste water is adequately collected and treated.

Despite significant progress made, urban waste water is still not adequately treated in five agglomerations. The lack of adequate waste water treatment systems for these five agglomerations poses significant risks to human health, inland waters and the marine environment in the environmentally sensitive areas in which the untreated waste water is discharged.

Full implementation of the standards set in EU legislation is essential for the protection of human health and of the natural environment.

Despite the letter of formal notice under article 260 sent by the Commission to Italy on 17 May 2018, compliance has not yet been reached in the abovementioned five agglomerations. This second referral to Court may result in financial penalties. More information is in the press release.

2. Justice
Fight against fraud: Commission calls on BULGARIA, POLAND and FINLAND to comply with the rules on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law

The European Commission decided to open an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria (INFR(2023)2012) and Poland (INFR(2023)2011) for failing to correctly transpose the EU rules on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law (Directive (EU) 2017/1371). In addition, the Commission also decided to send a reasoned opinion to Finland (INFR(2021)2234). The rules outlined in the Directive protect the EU budget by harmonising the definitions, sanctions and jurisdiction rules related to fraud and other offences affecting the EU’s financial interests. The Commission has identified several conformity issues in Bulgaria and Poland regarding the definition of some criminal offences and the related criminal penalties, as well as the liability of legal persons for crimes committed for their benefit. In December 2021, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Finland. After having analysed the reply, the Commission concluded that Finland failed to comply with the obligation to provide for the liability of legal persons in cases of passive corruption and misappropriation. Bulgaria, Poland and Finland have two months now to take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion to Poland and Bulgaria, and to refer Finland to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Procedural rights: Commission calls on LUXEMBOURG, SLOVENIA, and SLOVAKIA to correctly apply to their national law the EU rules on the right of access to a lawyer and to communicate upon arrest

The European Commission decided to open an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Slovenia (INFR(2023)2010) and Slovakia (INFR(2023)2008) for failing to correctly transpose the Directive on the right of access to a lawyer and to communicate upon arrest (Directive 2013/48/EU). In addition, the Commission also decided to send a reasoned opinion to Luxembourg (INFR(2021)2139). This Directive aims to ensure access to a lawyer from the earliest stages of proceedings for persons subjected to a European Arrest Warrant (EAW), as well as for suspects and accused persons in criminal proceedings; and that those who are deprived of liberty may inform and communicate with third persons, such as their employer or family members, as well as with consular authorities. The Commission considers that certain national transposition measures notified by the three Member States fall short of the requirements of the Directive. Both Slovenia and Slovakia, provide for exceptions from the right of access to a lawyer, which are not allowed under the Directive and failed to correctly transpose the right to have a third person informed of the deprivation of liberty. Slovenian law, in addition, does not fully guarantee confidentiality of communication between suspects or accused persons and their lawyer. Slovak law transposes incorrectly the requirements related to a possible waiver of the right of access to a lawyer. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Luxembourg in November 2021. After assessing the reply, the Commission concluded that some of the issues raised in the letter of formal notice have not been addressed. Luxembourg failed to provide for the specific rules governing the sharing of information with the responsible parent, or adult, in cases where a minor is detained.  Luxembourg, Slovenia, and Slovakia now have two months to take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion to Slovenia and Slovakia and to refer Luxembourg to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

European Arrest Warrant: Commission urges ESTONIA and LUXEMBOURG to comply with the requirements of the Framework Decision

Today, the European Commission decided to send reasoned opinions to Estonia (INFR(2020)2279) and Luxembourg (INFR(2022)2018) for failing to comply with the Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States (Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA). The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is a simplified cross-border judicial procedure to surrender a requested person for the purpose of prosecution or executing a custodial sentence or detention order. 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 has sent letters of formal notice to Estonia in December 2020 and to Luxembourg in May 2022. Following their replies, the Commission concluded that Estonia has not fully transposed the necessary requirements needed in relation to subsequent surrenders for offences committed prior to the initial surrender, while Luxembourg failed to correctly transpose the time-limits to take a decision on the execution of a warrant, as well as the obligation immediately to inform the issuing judicial authority. Estonia and Luxembourg now have two months to take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to refer the two Member States to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Procedural rights: Commission calls on SWEDEN to comply with the EU rules on interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Sweden (INFR(2021)2105) for failing to correctly transpose provisions of the Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings (Directive (EU) 2010/64). The Directive aims to create common minimum standards ensuring that rights of suspects and accused persons are sufficiently protected across the EU. In particular, it guarantees the right for suspects and accused persons in the EU to be provided with interpretation and translation during criminal proceedings, free of charge, into a language they understand. In September 2021, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Sweden. Following Sweden’s reply, the Commission concluded that Swedish legislation does not clearly envisage a right for the suspect or accused person to have interpretation available for their communication with their legal counsel during questioning or hearings, and it merely allows the legal counsel to be reimbursed for the costs of interpretation when such communication occurs outside of the courtroom. Sweden has now two months to take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to refer Sweden to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

3. Energy
Radiation protection: Commission calls on LITHUANIA and LUXEMBOURG to correctly transpose the Euratom Basic Safety Standards Directive

The European Commission decided to open two infringement procedures by sending letters of formal notice to Lithuania (INFR(2023)2039) and Luxembourg (INFR(2023)2040) for failing to correctly transpose the revised Basic Safety Standards Directive (Council Directive 2013/59). The Directive, which modernises and consolidates EU radiation protection legislation, 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. The Commission found that the measures were not correctly transposing the Directive in those two Member States. The conformity issues identified by the Commission are different for each Member State and concern specific requirements of the Directive, such as provisions on medical radiological equipment, estimation of population doses, radon (natural radioactive gas) action plan, inspections, non-medical imaging exposures, estimation of external and internal exposure, dose constraints and the provision of information on high activity sealed sources. These Member States now have two months to reply and address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send them a reasoned opinion.

Renewable energy: Commission urges LITHUANIA to fully transpose the Renewable Energy Directive

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Lithuania (INFR(2021)0277) 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 to be 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 a letter of formal notice to Lithuania. To date, the Member State has only partially transposed the Directive. Lithuania now has two months to rectify the situation and notify the Commission of its complete transposition. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

4. Taxation and Customs Union
Taxation: Commission takes additional action against GREECE for failure to comply with EU rules on car taxation

The European Commission decided to send an additional letter of formal notice to Greece (INFR(2020)4001) for not applying properly EU rules on second-hand vehicles purchased in other EU Member States. A first letter of formal notice was sent to Greece on 23 September 2021 regarding its registration tax and environmental tax on such vehicles. Since then, Greece has extended the application of the environmental tax to new categories of vehicles. This environmental tax discriminates between second-hand vehicles bought and registered in Greece and second-hand vehicles purchased in other Member States, and subsequently registered in Greece. Consequently, the Commission is now expanding the scope of the infringement considering the new modifications introduced in the Greek legislation. Greece has two months to reply to this additional letter of formal notice. If Greece does not act within the next two months, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Taxation: Commission calls on CYPRUS to comply with EU VAT rules for dwellings

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Cyprus (INFR(2021)2093) for its failure to properly apply EU VAT rules for dwellings purchased or constructed in Cyprus. Cyprus allows a reduced rate of VAT of 5% on the first 200m2 of dwellings used as the principal and permanent residence by the beneficiary, without any other limitations. The VAT Directive (Council Directive 2006/112/EC) does allow Member States to apply a reduced rate of VAT on housing as part of a social policy. However, the wide scope of the Cypriot legislation and the lack of limitations therein indicate that the measure goes beyond that objective. In particular, the reduced rate is applied regardless of the income, assets and economic situation of the beneficiary, the members of the family that will reside in the dwelling, and the maximum total area of the dwellings concerned. Consequently, the Commission considers that Cyprus has failed to fulfil its obligations under the VAT Directive. Today’s reasoned opinion follows up on the letter of formal notice sent by the Commission to Cyprus in July 2021. Cyprus now has two months to address the shortcomings identified in this reasoned opinion. If Cyprus does not act within the next two months, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

5. Mobility and Transport
Maritime transport: Commission calls on BULGARIA to comply with EU rules on marine equipment

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria (INFR(2019)2218) for failing to comply with EU rules on marine equipment contained in the Marine Equipment Directive (Directive 2014/90/EU).The Directive includes common safety rules for equipment such as life jackets, sewage cleaning systems or radars on-board EU-flagged ships, also aiming to prevent them from being counterfeit. The Directive creates a market surveillance mechanism giving Member States the responsibility for ensuring that marine equipment does not present a risk to maritime safety, to health or to the environment. Bulgaria is not conducting adequate market surveillance for marine equipment on-board ships falling under its responsibility.

In October 2019, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria. Since Bulgaria has still not reported any market surveillance activities, the Commission has decided to issue a reasoned opinion. Bulgaria 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.

6. Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union
Anti-Money Laundering: Commission calls on BULGARIA to correctly transpose the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive

Today, the European Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria (INFR(2023)2038) on the grounds of its incorrect transposition of the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (Directive (EU) 2018/843). Bulgaria had notified the complete transposition of the Directive. Nevertheless, the Commission has identified several instances of incorrect transposition (non-conformity) of the Directive into national law. These affect, among others, fundamental aspects like the obligation to register, license, or regulate services providers (i.e. under national law, trust and company services providers are neither licensed or subject to registration); the lack of a mechanism to solve discrepancies of information offered by the national beneficial ownership register (the register that indicates who actually owns what); or the proper application of the concepts of ‘establishment’ or ‘residence’ as regards who are the subjects under the obligation to provide information on beneficial ownership. 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. EU rules should be implemented and supervised efficiently in order to combat crime and protect our financial system. Without a satisfactory response from Bulgaria within two months, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Commission urges MALTA to correctly transpose the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Malta (INFR(2021)2133) for failing to transpose correctly the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive (Directive 2014/49/EU). On top of their available financial means to fulfil a certain target level, national deposit guarantee schemes must have adequate alternative funding arrangements to obtain short-term funding in case they need to pay out the guarantee to depositors. This is not the case in Malta. This situation hampers the financial resilience of the Maltese Deposit Guarantee Scheme and, ultimately, the protection offered to depositors. Malta failed to correctly transpose the Directive into their national legal order and now 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.

7. Jobs and social rights
Employment: The Commission calls on GREECE, SPAIN and LUXEMBOURG to incorporate the Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions into national law

Today, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Greece (INFR(2022)0352), Spain (INFR(2022)0354) and Luxembourg (INFR(2022)0373) for their failure to incorporate the Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions (Directive (EU) 2019/1152) into national law. These rules provide more extensive and updated labour rights and protection to the 182 million workers in the EU. With the new rules, workers have, for instance, the right to more predictability regarding assignments and working time. They will also have the right to receive timely and more complete information about the essential aspects of their job, such as place of work and remuneration. The new rules will also benefit in particular an estimated two to three million workers in precarious forms of employment.

In September 2022, the Commission sent letters of formal notice to 19 Member States for not incorporating at all, or not fully incorporating, the Directive into their national law. It has now decided to follow up with a reasoned opinion for Greece, Spain and Luxembourg, as these countries have still neither notified national measures to implement the new EU rules, nor have they communicated a draft law with a specific timing for adoption. The three Member States now have two months to notify their national measures. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Source – EU Commission

 

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