The European Commission has reiterated its commitment to ensure the effective application of the whole range of European legislation and, in particular, the world’s biggest single market of 500 million citizens.
The Annual Report provides a clear picture on how the Commission monitored and enforced European Union law in 2015 and the Single Market Scoreboard reveals that barriers to the free movement of persons, services, goods and capital in the EU are being eliminated in most areas. The constructive compliance dialogue between the Commission and Member States increasingly leads to compliance issues being resolved without the need to resort to formal procedures.
At the same time, in some fields the situation is stalling or even worsening, new barriers are being erected, and the Single Market needs to adapt to reflect new realities: innovative ideas and new business models must find their place, too.
Annual Report on Monitoring the application of EU law
The 33rd ‘Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of EU Law’ reviews the Member States’ performance in key areas of the application of EU law and highlights the main trends in enforcement policy in 2015. One of the key areas is the Single Market which remains Europe’s most precious asset for the millions of citizens and businesses. They benefit each day from the freedom to live, work and trade in 28 Member States, safe in the knowledge that a clear set of rules governs their relations.
The Commission launches infringement procedures when a Member State fails to resolve an alleged breach of EU law. Two scenarios can trigger such a procedure. First, when a Member State fails within the agreed deadline to notify its national measures transposing a European directive into domestic law. Second, when a Member State’s legislation is not in line with EU legislation or when EU law is not applied correctly by the national authorities.
The total number of infringement procedures is at a consistently lower level as compared to five years ago. This shows that in many cases the structured dialogue with Member States before an infringement procedure is eventually launched can be an effective tool. It also reflects the Commission’s determination to work with the Member States to improve compliance at an early stage and resolve potential infringements quickly, to the benefit of citizens and businesses. In this regard, the EU Pilot tool is a valuable instrument for correcting breaches of EU law at an early stage, as is the notification procedure for draft technical regulations for products and information society services before their adoption.
The chart below provides an overview of the situation for each Member State, for late transposition as well as for incorrect transposition and/or wrong application of Union law.
As in 2014, environment and transport remain the policy areas in which most infringement cases were opened in 2015.
Combating late transposition of directives
The Commission is committed to ensure that Member States transpose European directives into their national legal order within the deadlines they committed to. Delays in transposing Union law prevent citizens and businesses from reaping the benefits of EU law, negatively affect overall legal certainty and unfairly tilt the level playing field in the Single Market.
In 2015, the number of new infringement procedures relating to late transposition slightly decreased compared to 2014. Among the examples of late transposition procedures over the areas relating to the directives on the powers of the European Supervisory Authority, the taking-up and pursuit of the business of Insurance and Reinsurance (Solvency II), the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances and the establishment of a single European railway area.
To facilitate timely transposition, the Commission continued to assist Member States by preparing implementation plans, dedicated websites and guidance documents, and by exchanging best practice in expert groups’ meetings.
When Member States fail to transpose a directive within the agreed deadline, the Commission continues to make full use of the financial sanctions system, which was introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon: it referred six cases to the Court of Justice of the EU, requesting that financial penalties be applied. These referrals related to Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Slovenia, and Poland (in two cases).
Single Market Scoreboard
Timely transposition does not necessarily equal correct transposition. The Single Market Scoreboard gives an accurate picture of the state of the implementation of the EU Single Market rules. It evaluates how the EU Member States apply European rules and identifies the shortcomings where the EU countries should step up their efforts.
Depending on their 2015 performance in a series of governance tools and policy areas, Member States were given green (good), yellow (average) and red (below average) cards.
In addition to assessing Member States’ compliance with Single Market law, the Scoreboard evaluates how they help citizens and businesses via various EU tools for general information and job search (Your Europe portal, Your Europe Advice, Solvit, EURES). The Scoreboard also monitors Member States’ openness to trade and investment and their wider efforts in opening up sectors such as public procurement, professional qualifications or postal services.
Taking all these evaluated areas into account, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Ireland and Slovakia performed best.
The Commission reacts to citizens’ complaints
Citizens and stakeholders can report suspected breaches of EU law through an online complaint form accessible via the Europa portal Your rights. In 2015, as in the previous year, the majority of complaints concerned employment and social affairs, Single Market and justice and consumer rights. As part of the complaint form, SOLVIT can help citizens and businesses solve their problems with a public authority in another EU country.
Since 1984, following a request made by the European Parliament, the Commission presents an annual report on monitoring the application of EU law during the preceding year. The European Parliament then adopts a resolution on the Commission’s report.
The online Single Market Scoreboard is published annually. It monitors the performance of EU Member States in a number of policy areas (public procurement, professional qualifications, postal services, trade integration, market openness) and governance tools (Transposition, infringement procedures and EU Pilot in Single Market-related areas, EURES, Your Europe, Your Europe Advice, Solvit, IMI, Priority areas,European Consumer Centres, Consumer Protection Cooperation Network, Technical Regulation Information System (TRIS).
For more information
Annual Report on Monitoring the application of EU law:
Single Market Scoreboard:
Compliments of the European Commission