July infringements package: key decisions

(Source: European Commission)

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 108 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 and fisheries

(For more information: Vivian Loonela – Tel.: +32 229 66712, Daniela Stoycheva – Tel.: +32 229 53664)

Letter of formal notice, Art. 260 TFEU

Waste: Commission calls on BULGARIA to fulfil its obligations on landfilling

The Commission is calling on Bulgaria to fulfil its obligations under the Landfill Directive (Directive 1999/31/EC). The Landfill Directive sets standards for landfills to prevent adverse effects on human health, water, soil and air. The European Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan set a zero pollution ambition for the EU, which benefits public health, the environment and climate neutrality. Under the Landfill Directive, existing landfills may not continue to operate after 16 July 2009 unless they comply with EU legislation. In 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Bulgaria had not taken the necessary measures to ensure that all landfills comply with the obligations under this Directive. At the time, there were 113 substandard landfills still in operation. Although Bulgaria ensured that all the 113 substandard landfills covered by the judgement stopped accepting waste at the end of 2017, six years after the judgement of the Court, 43 of these sites have still not been fully closed and rehabilitated. The Commission has therefore decided to send a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria for not complying with the Directive even after the 2015 judgement of the Court. Bulgaria now has two months to comply. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Bulgaria back to the Court of Justice of the European Union and a financial penalty may be imposed.

Reasoned opinion

Prevention of major accidents involving dangerous substances: the Commission calls on BULGARIA to improve its national rules

The European Commission is urging Bulgaria to bring its national legislation into line with Directive 2012/18/EU on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (the Seveso III Directive). The Directive applies to over 12 000 industrial installations across the European Union and lays down rules to prevent major industrial accidents and minimise their harmful impacts on human health and the environment. Sectors like the chemical and petrochemical industry, and the fuel wholesale and storage sectors are covered by its scope. Different safety regimes apply, depending on the amount of dangerous substances present, with stricter legal requirements applying to installations handling high amounts. The European Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan set a zero pollution ambition for the EU, which benefits public health, the environment and climate neutrality. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria in July 2020 and in response, Bulgaria committed to amend national laws. However, Bulgaria has still not properly defined the scope of application of the Directive by introducing the notion of ‘other establishment’ into national legislation, which has cascaded into a number of non-compliant provisions. Some technical provisions have also been incorrectly enacted into national law including the definition of ‘inspection’, as well as information that should be made available to the public, and giving the public an early opportunity to give its opinion. Therefore, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria. Bulgaria now has two months to remedy the situation, otherwise the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Referral to the Court of Justice

Air Quality: Commission decides to refer GREECE to the Court of Justice of the European Union over poor air quality

The European Commission has today decided to refer Greece to the Court of Justice of the European Union for poor air quality caused by high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). When the limit values set by the EU’s ambient air quality legislation (Directive 2008/50 /EC) are exceeded, Member States are required to adopt air quality plans to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to keep the duration of the exceedance period as short as possible. The European Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan emphasise the importance of cutting air pollution, which is among the key factors negatively 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. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) results mostly from human activities, such as road traffic, in particular from diesel vehicles, and industry. This type of pollution is the cause of serious illnesses such as asthma and reduced lung function. Greece has continually and persistently exceeded the annual NO2 limit value in Athens. It has also failed to adopt appropriate measures to keep the exceedance period as short as possible. The Commission therefore considers that efforts by the Greek authorities have to date been unsatisfactory and insufficient, and is 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

(For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Federica Miccoli – Tel.: +32 229 58300; Célia Dejond – Tel.: +32 229 88199)

Reasoned opinions

Public procurement: Commission urges GERMANY comply with the EU public procurement and concession rules

Today, the  Commission has decided to send Reasoned Opinions to Germany to ensure the correct transposition of the directives on public procurement and concession contracts (Directives 2014/24/EU2014/25/EU and 2014/23/EU). EU public procurement legislation requires public contracts above a certain threshold to be put out to tender, respecting the principles of transparency, equal treatment and non-discrimination. In ensuring that Member States correctly transpose the directives into their national legislations, the Commission acts to protect fair competition and promote better value for tax payers’ money. Based on the analysis of the Commission, several provisions of the national legislation in Germany are not compatible with the directives. In particular, the Commission is raising three issues, specifically concerning the calculation of architectural planning services, the exemption of rescue services from public procurement rules and the missing definition of postal services. Germany now has two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Referrals to the Court of Justice

Professional Qualifications: Commission refers CZECHIA to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with EU rules on professional qualifications

The Commission has decided today to refer Czechia to the Court of Justice of the European Union over concerns about Czechia’s compliance with EU rules on professional qualifications (Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC as amended by Directive 2013/55/EU). The Commission is taking this step since Czechia has not remedied the breaches identified in the reasoned opinion sent by the Commission in November 2019 and following further dialogue with the Czech authorities. The Commission is specifically addressing certain provisions of national rules on professional qualifications, which can directly affect professionals who obtained their professional qualifications in Czechia or would like their professional qualifications be recognised in Czechia. The identified breaches concern horizontal issues regarding the status of the persons undergoing or preparing for compensatory measures in Czechia as well as procedural formalities and guarantees for professionals. The referral also concerns several sector-specific issues affecting doctors, nurses, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons and architects. While Czechia made an effort to comply with the relevant rules, the Commission believes that the above mentioned provisions still do not comply with the EU legislation. This can hamper professionals’ cross-border mobility, reduce work opportunities and make it more difficult for potential recipients of their services to enjoy the benefits of the Single Market. Today’s decision follows the Commission’s systematic checks of national legislations and administrative practices and other actions taken by the Commission to ensure a fully functional Single Market for services and professionals. A press release is available here.

3. Migration, Home Affairs and Security Union

(For more information: Adalbert Jahnz – Tel.: + 32 229 53156; Laura Bérard – Tel.: + 32 229 55721; Ciara Bottomley – Tel.: +32 229 69971)

Letters of formal notice

Fight against terrorism: Commission urges CYPRUS, CZECHIA, GREECE, SPAIN and LITHUANIA to ensure correct transposition of EU rules on combating terrorism

The Commission decided today to open infringement procedures by sending letters of formal notice to Cyprus, Czechia, Greece, Spain and Lithuania for failing to correctly transpose certain elements of the EU rules on combating terrorism (Directive (EU) 2017/541). The Directive on combating terrorism is a key element of the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Agenda and includes provisions that criminalise and sanction terrorist-related offences, such as travelling abroad to commit a terrorist offence, returning to or travelling within the EU for such activities, training for terrorist purposes and financing terrorism. In addition, EU rules set out special provisions for victims of terrorism to ensure they have access to reliable information as well as professional and specialist support services, in the immediate aftermath of an attack and for as long as necessary. Member States had to transpose the Directive into national law by 8 September 2018. Cyprus, Czechia, Greece, Spain and Lithuania now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion.

Reasoned opinions

Security: Commission urges BELGIUM to comply with EU rules on forensic service providers

The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to Belgium requesting it enacts into national law the EU rules on the accreditation of forensic service providers carrying out laboratory activities (Council Framework Decision 2009/905/JHA). These EU rules allow for intensified exchange of forensic information and ensure that the results of laboratory activities carried out by accredited forensic service providers in one Member State are recognised as equally reliable by the law enforcement authorities in other Member States, making their work more effective. Member States had until 30 November 2015 to put in place legislation implementing the EU rules. Belgium notified the partial transposition of the rules in relation to DNA profiles in 2019. To date, Belgium has not notified any transposing measures in relation to dactyloscopic data. The Commission had sent a letter of formal notice to Belgium in May 2020. Following today’s reasoned opinion, Belgium now has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to ensure full implementation. Otherwise, the Commission may refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Referrals to the Court of Justice

Fight against crime: Commission refers ITALY to the Court of Justice of the European Union for gaps in information sharing to combat terrorism and crime

The Commission has decided today to refer Italy to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with all information exchange requirements set in the EU rules on cross-border cooperation in combating terrorism and cross-border crime (‘Prüm Decisions’, Council Decisions 2008/615/JHA and 2008/616/JHA). The rules are a key instrument in the fight against terrorism and crime. They allow Member States to quickly exchange information on DNA, fingerprints and national vehicle registration data, enabling law enforcement authorities to identify suspects and make links between criminal cases throughout the Union. Member States had to fully implement the rules by August 2011. The Commission launched an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Italy, and followed up in 2017 with a reasoned opinion, urging the Member State to fully comply with its legal obligations. Despite repeated enquiries into the Member State’s progress in implementing its obligations, to this date, Italy still does not allow other Member States access to its DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data. For those reasons, the Commission decided to refer this case to the Court of Justice of the European Union. A press release is available online.

Commission refers HUNGARY to the Court of Justice of the European Union for unlawfully restricting access to the asylum procedure

Today, the Commission has decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union for unlawfully restricting access to the asylum procedure contrary to Article 6 of the Asylum Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU), interpreted in light of Article 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Article 6 of the Asylum Procedures Directive requires Member States to ensure that non-EU nationals and stateless persons present in their territory, including at their borders, are able to exercise in an effective manner the right to make an application for international protection. According to the requirement in Hungarian law, before being able to apply for international protection in Hungary, non-EU nationals must first make a declaration of intent stating their wish to apply for asylum at a Hungarian Embassy outside the European Union and be issued with a special entry permit for that purpose. The Commission considers that this rule is an unlawful restriction to access to the asylum procedure that is contrary to the Asylum Procedures Directive, read in light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as it precludes persons who are on Hungary’s territory, including at the border, from applying for international protection there. The Commission also considers that addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the stated objective of the Hungarian law, cannot justify such a rule. The Commission is therefore referring Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union. A press release is available online.

4. Justice

(For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.:+32 229 63444; Jordis Ferroli – Tel. +32 229 92729)

Letters of formal notice; reasoned opinion and additional reasoned opinion

EU founding values: Commission starts legal action against HUNGARY and POLAND for violations of fundamental rights of LGBTIQ people

The Commission is launching infringement procedures against Hungary and Poland related to the equality and the protection of fundamental rights. On Hungary, the cases include the recently adopted law, which in particular prohibits or limits access to content that promotes or portrays the so-called ‘divergence from self-identity corresponding to sex at birth, sex change or homosexuality’ for individuals under 18; and a disclaimer imposed on a children’s book with LGBTIQ content. In relation to Poland, the Commission considers that Polish authorities failed to fully and appropriately respond to its inquiry regarding the nature and impact of the so-called ‘LGBT-ideology free zones’ resolutions adopted by several Polish regions and municipalities. The two Member States now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send them a reasoned opinion and in a further step refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The full press release is available online.

Procedural rights: Commission urges eight EU countries to implement EU legislation on the right of access to a lawyer

Today, the European Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice to six EU countries: Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Sweden, for failing to fully transpose the Directive on the right of access to a lawyer (Directive 2013/48/EU). The Commission also decided to send a reasoned opinion to Slovakia and an additional reasoned opinion to Bulgaria. The Directive lays down minimum rules concerning the right of a suspect to have access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and in proceedings for the execution of a European arrest warrant. The Directive also stipulates that suspects have the right to have a third party informed upon deprivation of liberty and to communicate with third persons and with consular authorities while deprived of liberty. The Commission analysed how the six Member States transposed the Directive into their national laws and has identified certain gaps when it comes to rights of children. The Directive ensures that from the early stages of police custody onwards, children cannot be deprived of liberty without an appropriate third person knowing. The gaps identified concern notifying an appropriate adult, where it would be contrary to the best interests of a child to inform the holder of parental responsibility of the deprivation of liberty. The six Member States (Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Sweden) now have two months to respond and clarify, failing which the Commission may decide to send them a reasoned opinion. The Commission had opened infringement proceedings by sending a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria and Slovakia in January 2017 for failing to notify the Commission of any national rules, which implement this EU law. In January 2018, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria as the country still did not notify any transposition measures. In the meantime, Slovakia and Bulgaria notified the national rules, however the rules do not ensure that all the provisions of the Directive, in particular on notifying another adult, are implemented. As a result, the Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Slovakia and an additional reasoned opinion to Bulgaria. The two Member States have two months to reply to the reasoned opinion and take the necessary measures, otherwise the Commission will refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union. More information on the Directive on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and in European arrest warrant proceedings can be found here.

Referrals to the Court of Justice

Company Law: European Commission refers BULGARIA to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to connect its business register to the EU Business Registers system

Today, the European Commission decided to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the European Union for continuously failing to connect its national business register to the Business Registers Interconnection System (BRIS), and therefore breaching the Directive ((EU) 2017/1132) relating to certain aspects of company law. The deadline for Bulgaria to connect to BRIS was 8 June 2017. More than 4 years after that deadline and despite repeated calls by the Commission, Bulgaria is still not connected to the system. As a result, none of the functions of BRIS are available concerning Bulgarian companies. More specifically, Bulgaria’s failure to connect to BRIS makes it complicated for EU citizens, companies and professionals to obtain relevant information on Bulgarian companies. Furthermore, without BRIS, business registers cannot cooperate in cross-border mergers that involve Bulgarian companies or in procedures related to cross-border branches of Bulgarian companies. This is why the Commission decided to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The full press release is available online.

5. Energy and climate

(For more information: Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Ana Crespo Parrondo – Tel.: +32 229 81325)

Letters of formal notice

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

The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Malta requesting the correct transposition of the revised Basic Safety Standards Directive (Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom) into its national legislation. Member States were required to transpose the Directive by 6 February 2018, but the Commission considers that Malta has still not complied with certain requirements thereof. 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. Malta has two months to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Euratom Drinking Water Directive: Commission calls on PORTUGAL to correctly transpose EU radiation protection legislation

The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Portugal for not complying with the requirement of the Euratom Drinking Water Directive (Council Directive 2013/51/Euratom) to define precise sampling frequencies for water intended for human consumption that is packed in bottles or containers for sale. The Directive lays down requirements for the protection of public health with regard to radioactive substances in water intended for human consumption. It sets out parametric values, frequencies and methods for monitoring those substances and provides for the establishment of monitoring programmes to check that drinking water meets the requirements of the Directive. In addition, the Directive also requires that citizens are adequately and appropriately informed of the quality of the water they consume. Portugal has two months to address the shortcoming identified by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Reasoned opinions

Radioactive waste: Commission calls on CROATIA, POLAND and the NETHERLANDS to correctly transpose EU radioactive waste management legislation

The Commission decided to send reasoned opinions to Croatia, Poland and the Netherlands for failing to correctly transpose certain requirements of the Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Directive (Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom). Radioactive waste is generated from the production of electricity in nuclear power plants, but also from the non-power-related use of radioactive materials for medical, research, industrial and agricultural purposes. This means that all EU Member States generate radioactive waste. The Directive establishes a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The Directive requires in particular the Member States to draw up and implement national programmes for the management of all spent fuel and radioactive waste generated on their territory, up to disposal. The aim is to protect workers and the general public against ionising radiation. Member States were required to transpose the Directive by 23 August 2013 and to notify their national programmes for the first time to the Commission by 23 August 2015. The Member States concerned have two months to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

6. Taxation and Customs Union

(For more information: Daniel Ferrie – Tel.: +32 229 86500, Nerea Artamendi Erro – Tel.: +32 2 29 90964)

Letters of formal notice

Taxation: Commission takes action against LITHUANIA for failure to comply with EU rules on Value-Added Tax (VAT)

The European Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Lithuania for its failure to properly apply VAT rules intended to simplify life for small businesses. Under the current VAT scheme for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), small companies in Lithuania with a turnover of less than €45,000 a year do not have to register for VAT. However, under anti-avoidance measures, Lithuania excludes businesses with lower turnovers when their ultimate owner’s annual income exceeds the €45,000 threshold as a whole, even when that person’s other businesses are legally independent and do not use purely artificial structures. Anti-avoidance and evasion provisions are allowed to ensure the correct collection of VAT. However, the Commission considers that excluding from the special VAT scheme businesses who, while financially linked, have completely independent economic activities, is disproportionate and contrary to the principle of fiscal neutrality. Consequently, the Commission considers that Lithuania has breached the VAT Directive. Lithuania has two months to address the shortcomings identified in this letter of formal notice. If Lithuania does not take appropriate steps within the next two months, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Taxation: Commission takes action against CYPRUS for failure to comply with EU VAT rules for dwellings

The European Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Cyprus 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 200mof dwellings used as the principal and permanent residence by the beneficiary, without any other limitations. 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. The VAT Directive 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 the objective of a social policy. Consequently, the Commission considers Cyprus has failed to fulfil its obligations under the VAT Directive. Cyprus now has two months to address the shortcomings identified in this letter of formal notice. If Cyprus does not take appropriate steps within the next two months, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Taxation: Commission calls on ROMANIA to allow certain eligible businesses access to the Union One-Stop Shop in the area of VAT

The Commission decided today to send a letter of formal notice to Romania for failing to allow access to the Union One-Stop Shop (OSS) to certain categories of businesses who are otherwise eligible under the VAT Directive. The Union OSS is the electronic portal that online sellers will use to simplify and comply with their VAT obligations on their sales to consumers within the EU from 1 July 2021, by allowing them to register for VAT in a single Member State and to declare and pay the VAT due in other Member States. Firstly, the national legislation for the Union OSS excludes Romanian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) selling telecommunications, broadcasting or electronic services to consumers in other Member States (i.e. those businesses with a turnover of under €88,500 who take part in the special VAT scheme for SMEs). Secondly, registration in the Union OSS is open only to companies already registered for VAT in Romania for the purposes of domestic deductible transactions and certain intra-Community transactions, and not those registered for other purposes. Romania has two months to address the shortcomings identified in this letter of formal notice. If Romania does not take appropriate steps within the next two months, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

7. Mobility and Transport

(For more information: Stefan de Keersmaecker – Tel.: +32 229 84680, Anna Wartberger – Tel.: +32 229 82054)

Letters of formal notice

Road Transport: Commission calls on BULGARIA to remove requirements on professional drivers to present a certificate of mental fitness in addition to their driving licence

The Commission today decided to send a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria for introducing additional obligations for professional drivers, which are in breach of Directive 2006/126/EC on Driving Licences and Directive 2003/59/EC on Certificates of Professional Competence. Currently, professional drivers (notably of lorries and buses) are required by Bulgaria to present a certificate of mental fitness to control bodies, in addition to their driving licence. Directive 2006/126/EC on Driving Licences sets out the conditions for issuing, renewing or replacing European driving licences, notably minimum standards of physical and mental fitness. Therefore, the mental fitness of driving licence holders who carry out professional driving activities is already ascertained when the driving licence is issued and renewed. There is no reason to assume that professional driving activities raise specific road safety concerns that the mental examination provided for in the Directive 2006/126/EC cannot address.

Moreover, imposing stricter minimum standards of mental fitness for Bulgarian professional drivers puts them in a less favourable position. This goes against the objective of avoiding ‘unequal conditions of competition‘ for those drivers, which Directive 2003/59/EC seeks to ensure. On that basis, the European Commission considers that the certificate of mental fitness required for professional drivers runs counter to Directive 2006/126/EC, and Directive 2003/59/EC. Bulgaria now has two months to reply to the concerns raised by the Commission and take the necessary measures; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Single European Railway Area: Commission calls on HUNGARY to correctly transpose EU law

The Commission today decided to send a letter of formal notice to Hungary for failing to correctly transpose and apply Directive 2012/34/EU. The Directive aims at creating a Single European Railway Area, notably for competition issues, regulatory oversight and financial architecture of the railway sector, the power of national regulators, improved framework for investment in rail, and fair and non-discriminatory access to rail infrastructure and rail related services. The Commission takes the view that the rail regulatory framework in Hungary fails to correctly transpose and apply several provisions of the Directive, concerning inter alia the functions and resources of the regulatory body, the independence of the regulatory body, rules on cases in which railway networks, undertakings and infrastructure can be excluded from the scope of the Directive, and the allocation of infrastructure capacity. Hungary now has two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Maritime transport: Commission calls on POLAND to comply with EU rules on minimum level of training for seafarers

The Commission today decided to send a letter of formal notice to Poland for failing to comply with the EU rules on the minimum level of training for seafarers (Directive 2008/106/EC, as amended). These rules aim to ensure that training standards are respected across the EU, and are in line with standards already agreed at international level. The Commission considers that requirements for the certification of seafarers serving on board ships engaged in “domestic voyages” are not consistent with the minimum certification requirements of the Directive. Poland now has two months to respond to the concerns raised by the Commission and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Maritime transport: Commission calls on GERMANY and GREECE to comply with EU rules on marine equipment

The Commission today decided to send a letter of formal notice to Germany and Greece for failing to comply with EU rules on marine equipment (Directive 2014/90/EU). The Marine Equipment Directive harmonises safety rules on equipment such as life jackets, sewage cleaning systems and radars on board EU-flagged ships. Germany is not issuing certificates of equivalence for Marine Equipment Directive-certified equipment when a ship is transferred to the German flag. For Greece, the letter concerns inadequate market surveillance and procedures for notifying conformity assessment bodies, as well as the non-provision of declarations of conformity by marine equipment manufacturers to those conformity assessment bodies. Germany and Greece have two months to respond to the concerns raised by the Commission and address the identified shortcomings; failing this, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Reasoned opinions

Passenger rail transport: Commission calls on AUSTRIA to fully transpose new Governance Directive rules

The Commission today decided to send a reasoned opinion to Austria regarding the transposition of EU Directive 2016/2370 on the opening of the market for domestic rail passenger transport services, and the governance of railway infrastructure. Austria has failed to transpose several Directive Articles, such as the definitions of “infrastructure manager”, those on the operation and maintenance of railway infrastructure, and provisions on the “independence of infrastructure manager”, the sharing of its functions, the outsourcing of works and the option to conclude cooperation agreements, and their regulatory control. Austria has also failed to fully transpose provisions related to the limitation of both the right of access, and the right to pick up and set down passengers. The Commission is taking action against Austria to ensure that transposed national measures cover the full scope of the Governance Directive. Austria now has two months to reply. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may refer Austria to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Airport charges: Commission urges BULGARIA to correctly transpose EU rules at Sofia Airport

The Commission today decided to send a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria for failing to correctly transpose and apply Articles 6(3), and 11(6) of Directive 2009/12/EC on airport charges at Sofia Airport. Airport charges rules require Member States to put in place laws that ensure airport charges levied on airlines at the main EU airports are calculated in accordance with the principles of transparency, consultation and non-discrimination. Airports must consult airlines on their charges, and Member States are obliged to designate an independent authority with the power to adjudicate in disputes over charges involving airports and airport users, or the representatives or associations of airport users. In addition, the Commission also takes the view that Bulgaria has failed to correctly apply Article 3 of Directive 2009/12/EC and Article 15(1) of Regulation (EC) 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community: the Air Service Regulation. If Bulgaria fails to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure full compliance with the regulation, the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Single European Sky: Commission urges 6 Member States to comply with EU rules on the provision of data link services

The Commission today decided to send reasoned opinions to Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia for failing to provide and operate data link services for all operators of appropriately equipped aircraft flying within the airspace under their responsibility. The decision follows letters of formal notice sent on 15 May 2020, and additional letters of formal notice sent on 18 February 2021. Each Member State is required by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 29/2009, in conjunction with Article 4(3) TEU, to take these measures so that designated air traffic service providers are able to provide and operate these services. Communications between aircraft and the ground conveyed through data links complement the voice communications used traditionally between the cockpit and air traffic control centres. Deploying this interoperable technology in Europe is essential to improving the efficiency of communications between pilots and controllers, thereby increasing air traffic control capacity. The deadline for the providers to operate data link services 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 Member States concerned now have two months to take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

8. Jobs and social rights

(For more information: Arianna Podesta – Tel.: +32 229 87024; Flora Matthaes – Tel.: +32 229 83951)

Letters of formal notice

Posting of workers: Commission calls on 24 Member States to comply with EU Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive

The Commission decided today to open infringement procedures by sending letters of formal notice to Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland for failing to bring various national provisions in line with the Enforcement Directive on Posting of Workers (2014/67/EU). The Enforcement Directive aims to strengthen the practical application of the rules on posting of workers by addressing issues related to fighting fraud and circumvention of rules, access to information, and administrative cooperation between EU Member States. In particular, the Enforcement Directive defines the administrative requirements and control measures that Member States may impose to monitor compliance with the rules on posting of workers; defends the rights of posted workers and protects them from retaliation (unfavourable treatment by their employer in case they take legal or administrative action against the employer if their rights are not respected); ensures that the rights of posted workers in subcontracting situations are protected; ensures the effective application and collection of administrative penalties and fines across EU Member States; obliges Member States to put in place effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties. The Commission is engaging in a dialogue with the 24 EU Member States who have not correctly transposed some or all of the above-mentioned provisions of the Directive. The Commission intends to ensure that the rules in place will allow for posting of workers to continue on the Single Market without unnecessary hindrances for employers, while ensuring the rights of the posted workers. The Member States concerned now have two months to take the necessary measures, otherwise the Commission may decide to send reasoned opinions.

EU labour law: Commission calls on ITALY to amend its legislation on working conditions for honorary magistrates

The Commission decided today to open an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Italy as its national legislation applying to honorary magistrates does not fully comply with EU labour law. In the Commission’s view, the Italian legislation fails to comply with several provisions of the Framework Agreement annexed to Directive 1999/70/EC on fixed-term work; the Framework Agreement annexed to Directive 97/81/EC on part-time work; Directive 2003/88/EC on Working Time, and Directive 92/85/EEC on Pregnant Workers. Several categories of honorary magistrates, i.e. honorary justices of the peace (giudice onorario di pace), honorary deputy prosecutors (VPO), and honorary court judges (GOT), do not enjoy the status of a ‘worker’ under Italian national law, but are considered volunteers providing services on an ‘honorary’ basis. Because of this lack of worker status, they do not enjoy the protection of EU labour law. This includes the lack of allowances in case of illness, accidents, and pregnancy, the obligation to register with the National Social Welfare Institution fund for self-employed workers, differences in pay and modalities of pay, tax discrimination, no reimbursement of legal expenses incurred during disciplinary proceedings, and the lack of paid maternity leave. They 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. Italy adopted new legislation in 2017, which did not resolve these concerns. As the Court of Justice of the European Union recently confirmed that these honorary magistrates should have worker status, the Commission decided to open an infringement procedure against Italy by sending a letter of formal notice. Italy will have two months to take the necessary measures, otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Labour law: Commission asks clarifications from SPAIN on the prohibitions and restrictions to temporary agency work in the public sector

The Commission decided today to open an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Spain asking clarifications on the compatibility of legislation in Extremadura and Andalucía with the Directive on Temporary Agency Work (Directive 2008/104/EC). This Directive improves protection for agency workers while giving flexibility to companies. It establishes the principle of equal treatment for agency workers in user companies from the first day of their assignment. Agency workers must, for instance, have the same pay and working time conditions as other workers in the user company. Restrictions and prohibitions on the use of agency work are only allowed if they are justified on grounds of general interest.  In the public sector of Extremadura and in a number of public entities of Andalucía, there are prohibitions and restrictions on the use of public agency work. These prohibitions and restrictions concern for instance, in the case of Extremadura, public undertakings in which the administration has a majority holding, and in the case of Andalucía two hospitality schools and public entities active in the tourism and sports sector. In these cases, the use of workers from temporary agencies is either banned or restricted. Spain now has two months to demonstrate that these prohibitions and restrictions are justified on grounds of general interest. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

9. Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

(For more information: Daniel Ferrie – Tel.: +32 229 86500, Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Letters of formal notice

Financial Services: Commission requests CZECHIA to remove obstacles to freedom to provide services in the field of supplementary pensions

The Commission has decided to send a complementary letter of formal notice to Czechia for limitations of pension providers from other Member States to provide services under Article 56 TFEU (freedom to provide services). In practice, Czech legislation prevents companies that do not have their registered office and headquarters in Czechia from providing supplementary pension services on its territory. Czech pension law states that only companies registered in the country can offer such services. As a result, it is not possible for a European company registered elsewhere in the EU to offer supplementary pension services in Czechia. Czech citizens therefore are limited in their choice of supplementary pension products, whereas they could benefit from EU-wide internal market services offered by way of freedom to provide services. This principle is fundamental to the EU Treaty, and it is therefore important that Member States ensure proper compliance. Czechia has two months now to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission. Otherwise, in the absence of a satisfactory reply, the Commission may decide to follow the infringement procedure by sending a reasoned opinion.

Reasoned opinions

Bank Recovery and Resolution: Commission calls on 9 Member States to communicate national measures transposing EU rules on loss-absorbing and recapitalisation capacity

Today, the Commission decided to address reasoned opinions to Belgium, Czechia, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Romania for failing to transpose the revised EU rules on bank recovery and resolution into their national law (Directive (EU) 2019/879), namely the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive II (BRRD II). This Directive implements the standard on Total Loss-Absorbing Capacity (TLAC) for global systemically important banks adopted by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and enhances the application of the minimum requirement for own funds and eligible liabilities (MREL) for all banks. The new rules better ensure that banks build up robust and sufficient loss-absorbing and recapitalisation capacity so that, in case a bank fails, their losses are borne by banks’ shareholders and creditors and not financed by taxpayers’ money. This contributes to strengthening the resilience of the European banking system as well to maintain financial stability, in addition to increasing market confidence. BRRD II also ensures that retail investors do not invest excessively in debt instruments (such as bonds) that are eligible for MREL and thus would be used first to absorb the losses of the bank. Member States had to transpose the Directive and communicate national transposition measures to the Commission by 28 December 2020. The Commission sent letters of formal notice in February 2021 requesting the concerned Member States to notify full transposition measures. Due to the failure to notify any transposition measures, the Commission has decided to continue the infringement procedures by sending them reasoned opinions. The concerned Member States have now two months to take the necessary measures to transpose the BRRDII, otherwise the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Financial Services: Commission requests the NETHERLANDS and LATVIA to fully apply the payment services directive

The Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to the Netherlands and Latvia on the grounds that they failed to notify measures for complete transposition into national law of the Payment Services Directive (PSD 2, Directive EU 2015/2366). All Member States should have adopted and published these measures into national law by 13 January 2018 in order to comply with the EU rules. The Directive includes provisions to make it easier and safer to use internet payment services, to better protect consumers against fraud, abuse, and payment problems, to promote innovative mobile and internet payment services and to strengthen consumer rights so it is important to transpose it into national law. After a letter of formal notice sent by the Commission, these two Member States communicated their transposition measures. Following an assessment of these measures, the Commission observed that certain provisions have not been transposed, in particular the obligations of payment service providers concerning information requirements, including informing consumers about their rights.  In the case of the Netherlands, non-transposition also refers to the notification obligations and cooperation between national competent authorities, the European Banking Authority and the European Central Bank, for incident reporting. The Member States now have two months to take the necessary measures to fully transpose the PSD2, otherwise the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Banking Union: Commission requests BELGIUM, ITALY and PORTUGAL to transpose the amendment to the existing prudential rules

The Commission has today sent reasoned opinions to Belgium, Italy and Portugal for not having notified the transposition of the Capital Requirements Directive V (Directive (EU) 2019/878). The transposition of this legislation is crucial to address identified gaps in the existing rules, to remedy divergent interpretations and to introduce less burdensome rules for certain institutions. Moreover, it contains new rules on the establishment of an intermediate parent undertaking and on the approval of holdings, as well as revised rules on determining the consolidating supervisor, on remuneration and on governance. The Directive is part of the package of reforms in the banking sector, aimed at addressing the weaknesses in the prudential framework for banks that have been identified in the wake of the great financial crisis. It contributes to making the EU banking sector stronger and thus better able to maintain lending to businesses and households in stress times as well as better able to finance the transition to a more sustainable economy. Member States had to transpose this Directive and communicate national transposition measures to the Commission by 28 December 2020. The Commission sent letters of formal notice whereby requesting those Member States to notify full transposition measures. Due to the failure to notify any transposition measures, the Commission has decided to continue the infringement proceedings by sending reasoned opinions to these Member States. Without a satisfactory response within two months from the Member States concerned, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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