Overview by policy area
In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission is pursuing legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law. These decisions, covering many sectors and EU policy areas (see Annex), aim to ensure proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.
The key decisions taken by the Commission (including 4 letters of formal notice, 34 reasoned opinions, and 9 referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union) are presented below and grouped by policy area. The Commission is also closing 83 cases where the issues with the Member States concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further.
1. Agriculture and Rural Development
Agriculture: Commission requests CYPRUS to ensure implementation of EU rules on honey labelling
The European Commission is asking Cyprus to adopt and notify the national transposition measures of Directive 2014/63/EU related to honey. The main purposes of the Directive are to ensure that pollen, being a natural constituent particular to honey, should not be considered as one of its ingredients and to clarify the labelling requirements for the cases where honey originates in more than one Member State or third country. The Directive had to be implemented by 24 June 2015. According to the information available to the Commission, in spite of the letter of formal notice sent to Cyprus on 22 July 2015, Cyprus has either not notified the Commission of the national measures or has not yet adopted legislation to comply with the Directive. The request has been sent in the form of a reasoned opinion. Cyprus has two months to notify the Commission of the measures taken to apply the directive; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Cyprus to the Court of Justice of the EU.
2. Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Health and Safety: the Commission requests IRELAND, ITALY, and LUXEMBOURG to transpose the CLP Directive into their respective national law
Today, the Commission requested Ireland, Italy, and Luxembourg to transpose the Directive on classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures (Directive 2014/27/EU)into their national legislation. The CLP Regulation is an EU regulation, which entered into force on 20 January 2009 and aligns the Union system of classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures to the United Nations Globally Harmonised System (GHS) in accordance with the Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008. Member States’ laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive had to enter into force by 1 June 2015 and the Commission had to be informed immediately. On 22 July 2015, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to three Member States which had failed to notify such measures. Member States have two months to reply to a letter of formal notice. As the respective Member States have not done so in the meantime, the Commission concluded that they have still not taken all the necessary measures related to the CLP Directive. Therefore, the European Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Ireland, Italy, and Luxembourg. The concerned Member States now have two months to comply with their obligations. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Ireland, Italy, and Luxembourg to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Commission requests PORTUGAL to comply with Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
By sending a reasoned opinion, the European Commission has requested Portugal to correctly transpose all the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive 2010/31/EU) into national law. Under this Directive, Member States must establish and apply minimum energy performance requirements for new and existing buildings, ensure the certification of buildings’ energy performance, and require the regular inspection of heating and air conditioning systems. In addition, the Directive requires Member States to ensure that all new buildings are ‘nearly-zero energy’ from 2021 onwards (2019 – for public buildings). A detailed examination of the national legislation transposing the Directive revealed that firstly, some of its requirements did not apply in the Azores region, Portugal. Secondly, the national legislation itself contained exemptions from the energy performance requirements, which are not foreseen in this Directive. Thirdly, Portugal has decided to adopt alternative measures to regular inspection of heating and air conditioning systems, but has not provided the necessary evidence that the same amount of energy savings can be achieved with the alternative measures, as required by the Directive. Therefore, today, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Portugal asking to fully ensure that all the requirements of the Buildings Directive are correctly transposed. Portugal has two months now to notify the European Commission of measures taken to remedy this situation, following that the Commission may decide to refer it to the Court of Justice of the EU.More information about theEnergy Performance of Buildings Directive is available on the website of DG Energy.
Waste management: Commission refers GREECE to the Court of Justice of the EU over illegal landfill
The European Commission is referring Greece to the Court of Justice of the EU over poor waste management on the Greek island of Corfu. The Commission’s concerns relate to the Temploni landfill which has been operating in breach of EU waste and landfill legislation (Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, and Council Directive 1999/31/EC) since at least 2007, and represents a serious risk for human health and the environment.In an effort to urge Greece to take the necessary measures in order to ensure the proper functioning of the Temploni landfill, the Commission is referring Greece to the Court of Justice of the EU. Various on-site inspections by national authorities have revealed that the Temploni landfill is operating very poorly and in breach of EU legislation. The shortcomings include improper management of biogas, missing treatment of liquid draining from the landfill (leachates), and the presence of waste which the site is not permitted to treat. The European Commission expressed its concerns in a letter of formal notice in March 2011 and in a reasoned opinion in January 2012. Although the Greek authorities have recognised this issue and are trying to address it, the necessary measures have still not been taken and the landfill continues to operate in breach of EU waste legislation, constituting a serious threat to the environment. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Air quality: Commission refers POLAND to the Court of Justice of the EU over poor air quality
The European Commission decided today to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU over persistently high levels of dust particles that pose a major risk to public health. In Poland, the daily limit values for the airborne particles (PM10) have been persistently exceeded in 35 out of 46 air quality zones for at least for the last five years, including 2014. Additionally, in nine zones the annual limit values have also been persistently exceeded. The PM10 pollution in Poland is predominantly caused by low-stack emissions (emissions from sources with a height lower than 40m) from household heating. The legislative and administrative measures taken so far to limit this persisting non-compliance have been deemed insufficient by the Commission. Today’s decision follows an additional reasoned opinion which was sent to Poland in February 2015. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Timber: Commission asks SPAIN to implement EU Timber and FLEGT Regulation
The European Commission requests Spain to step up efforts to comply with EU law to counter the trade in illegally harvested timber. The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR; Regulation (EU) No 995/2010) which came into force on 3 March 2013 prohibits the placing of illegally harvested timber on the European market while the Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation of the Forest Law (Council Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005), applicable since 2005, establishes a licensing scheme to verify the legality of imports of timber into the EU from countries that have partnership agreements under the scheme. The Commission first raised its concerns over the application of both Regulations in a letter of formal notice which was sent to Spain in June 2015. Although Spain has reported significant progress, a number of measures are still needed to close the compliance gaps. In particular, Spain still has to designate competent authorities for the implementation of both Regulations. The Commission is thus sending a reasoned opinion. If Spain fails to act within two months, the Commission may refer this case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Commission requests BELGIUM, CYPRUS, and GREECE to enact EU rules on prevention of industrial accidents
The European Commission is urging Belgium, Cyprus, and Greece to send information about how the Seveso III Directive (Directive 2012/18/EU) is being enacted in their domestic law, an obligation due to be fulfilled by 31 May 2015. The Directive and its predecessors – Seveso Directives I and II – aim to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances and limit their consequences on citizens and the environment. This new Directive, which entered into force on 1 June 2015, takes into account a number of changes in EU legislation, including on the classification of chemicals, and increased rights for citizens to access information and justice. After Belgium, Cyprus and Greece missed the original deadline, the European Commission sent letters of formal notice to Belgium, Cyprus and Greece on 22 July 2015. The Commission is now sending reasoned opinions, and if the Member States in question fail to act within two months, these cases may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.
5. Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union
Financial Services: Commission requests CYPRUS to implement EU rules in the area of insurance
The European Commission has requested Cyprustotransposethe Solvency II Directive (Directive 2009/138/EC), and its amendments into its national law. Solvency II introduces for the first time a common, sound and robust prudential framework for insurance firms in the EU, including quantitative, governance and reporting rules, to facilitate the development of a single market in insurance services. These new insurance rules aim to ensure the financial soundness of insurance companies so that they can cover risks in difficult periods. The Solvency II Directive will become fully applicable on 1 January 2016. The deadline for the implementation of this Directive in national law was 31 March 2015. However, Cyprus failed to notify the Commission of measures to enact these rules into national law. The Commission’s request takes the form of a reasoned opinion and comes after a letter of formal notice which was sent to Cyprus in May 2015. If this Member State does not comply within two months, the Commission may decide to refer Cyprus to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Financial Services: Commission requests HUNGARY, LUXEMBOURG and POLAND to implement EU rules in the area of financial conglomerates
The European Commission has requested Hungary, Luxembourg, and Poland to implement the first amendment of the Financial Conglomerates Directive (Directive 2011/89/EU, “FICOD1”). This directive amended the original FICOD (Directive 2002/87/EU) as well as Directives 98/78/EC,2006/48/EC and 2009/138/EC with regards to supplementary supervision of financial entities in a financial conglomerate. These groups are financial groups which have significant activity in both the banking/investment and insurance sectors. FICOD1 was adopted as a ‘quick fix’ directive to address gaps in supplementary supervision revealed during the crisis, in particular allowing supervisors to apply both sectorial and supplementary supervision simultaneously. Member States were required to implement the amendments by June 2013, with the exception of provisions relating to alternative investment managers where the deadline was July 2013. However, these three countries have failed to notify all the necessary measures to the European Commission, as a result of which the Commission cannot conclude that complete implementation of these rules into national law has taken place. The Commission’s request takes the form of a reasoned opinion, after letters of formal notice were sent in April 2014. If the Member States do not comply within two months, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Financial Services: Commission requests 10 Member States to implement EU rules on Deposit Guarantee Schemes
The European Commission has formally requested Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Sweden to fully implement the Deposit Guarantee Schemes’ Directive (Directive 2014/49/EU, DGSD). This Directive, which builds upon the previousDirective 94/19/EC of 1994, improves the protection of deposits. Depositors will benefit from quicker pay-outs and a stronger safety net as more unified funding requirements will ensure that deposit guarantee schemes are pre-funded and will be able to fulfil their obligations towards depositors more efficiently. It is a step towards a fully-fledged Banking Union to create a safer and sounder financial sector in the wake of the financial crisis. For Member States within the Banking Union, the implementation of the DGSD is a pre-condition for the future use of the European Deposit Insurance Scheme proposed by the Commission (see IP/15/6152). This future Scheme would provide a stronger and more uniform degree of insurance cover for people with bank deposits in the Banking Union, ensuring that depositors can be equally confident in their bank, wherever that bank is located. The deadline for transposing these rules into national law was 3 July 2015. However, 10 EU countries have failed to implement these rules into their national law. The Commission’s request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If these Member States fail to comply within two months, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
6. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Public procurement: Commission refers AUSTRIA to the Court of Justice of the EU over the direct award of security printing services
The European Commission has decided to refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the EU for instructing federal authorities to directly award security printing services of official documents such as passports, driving licenses, or identity cards to the Austrian State Printing House (Österreichische Staatsdruckerei GmbH, OeSD), a private undertaking. The Commission considers that the direct award of security printing services to a private company, without a public tender, violates the EU rules on public procurement. These rules are designed to guarantee fair competition and better value for money for contracting authorities and taxpayers. As the Austrian authorities have not taken any measures to remedy the situation and failed to demonstrate why a private company should be awarded a public contract without giving other companies the chance to compete, the European Commission has decided to refer this case to the Court of Justice of the EU. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Industry: Commission refers GERMANY to the Court of Justice of the EU over failure to apply Directive on mobile air conditioning
The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU over the failure to applyDirective 2006/40/EC(Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive) on mobile air-conditioning systems which prescribes the use of motor vehicles’ refrigerants with less global warming potential and the phasing out of certain fluorinated greenhouse gases. National type-approval authorities have the obligation to certify that a vehicle meets all EU safety, environmental and production requirements – including those on mobile air-conditioning systems – before authorising it to be placed on the EU market. This is regulated by Directive2007/46/EC, which sets out the general framework for car type-approvals and foresees a range of remedial actions including the possibility to impose penalties. The Commission alleges that Germany has infringed EU law by allowing the car manufacturer Daimler AG to place automobile vehicles on the EU market that were not in conformity with the MAC Directive, and failing to take remedial action. Daimler AG invoked safety concerns regarding the use of refrigerants prescribed by the MAC Directive. These concerns were not shared by any other car manufacturer and were rejected by Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, KBA) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC), which undertook an additional risk analysis in 2014. Despite contacts between the Commission and the German authorities in the context of the infringement procedure, Germany has not taken any further steps against the issuing of the type-approval of non-compliant motor vehicles and has not taken appropriate remedial action on the manufacturer. In referring Germany to the Court of Justice, the Commission aims to ensure that the climate objectives of the MAC Directive are fulfilled and that EU law is uniformly applied throughout the EU so as to ensure fair competitive conditions for all economic operators. For more information, please refer to the full press release.
Free movement of goods: Commission requests FRANCE to remove restrictions to trade of “handmade” shoes manufactured and labelled in another Member State
The European Commission has formally requested France to change its law on handmade shoes (law No 48/824). The French law exclusively reserves the designation “handmade” (“fait main” in French) for shoes manufactured in a specific manner described in the law. Handmade shoes manufactured using different methods in other Member States are not recognised and are denied the use of the French translation of designations such as “handmade”, “fatto a mano” (in Italian), “hand gemacht” (in German), “hecho a mano” (in Spanish) in the French market. This puts manufacturers and importers of handmade shoes coming from different Member States at a commercial disadvantage in France. It denies the principle of mutual recognition and has the effect equivalent to quantitative restrictions on free movement of goods within the European Single Market (Article 34 of TFEU). The measure is not proportionate and cannot be justified on grounds of the protection of consumers. The Commission’s request that France changes its national law takes the form of a reasoned opinion. France has now two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy the situation; otherwise, the European Commission may decide to refer France to the Court of Justice of the EU.
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Courtesy of the European Commission