Infringement cases and legal actions against EU states

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The European Commission regularly publishes infringement decisions to pursue legal action against EU states for failing to comply with their obligations under the Union’s law. These decisions in various 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 during April are presented below and grouped by policy area. The Commission is also closing 135 cases in which the issues with the EU states concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further. Present review of infringement cases concentrates on the situation in the states around the Baltic Sea region.

Reasoned opinion
= Environmental impact assessment: Commission calls on Estonia to improve its national rules on environmental impact assessment of projects. The European Commission sends (19.04.2023) a reasoned opinion to Estonia (INFR (2019)2109) for its failure to bring its national legislation in line with the Directive on environmental impact assessment (Directive 2011/92/EU). This Directive requires certain public and private projects which are likely to have significant impact on the environment to be subject to an environmental impact assessment before being authorised. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice in July 2019, followed by an additional letter of formal notice in September 2022. Having analysed Estonia’s replies and amendments to its national law in 2020, the Commission concluded that certain shortcomings in transposition have been remedied. However, Estonia has still not correctly transposed certain requirements of the Directive, for instance those relating to projects for the use of uncultivated land or semi-natural areas for intensive agricultural purposes, installations for the manufacture of artificial mineral fibers or installations for the processing and storage of radioactive waste. In addition, the requirement to provide the public with information on the possible decisions taken as the result of the decision-making process has not been transposed. Therefore, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Estonia, 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.
All sources of information from: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/INF_23_1808

= Environmental noise: Commission calls on Latvia to fully transpose EU rules on environmental noise
The European Commission decided to send two reasoned opinions to Latvia (INFR (2022)0129 and INFR (2022)0132) for failure to update its national laws and comply with 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, Directive 2002/49/EC was amended by two directives, namely Directive (EU) 2020/367 and Directive (EU) 2021/1226, in order to adapt it to technical and scientific progress. The amendments concern assessment methods for the noise indicators and harmful effects of noise. Presently, Latvia has not communicated any transposition measures for the two directives. Therefore, the Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions in the two cases to Latvia, which has now two months to respond and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Letters of formal notice
= Third-country seasonal workers: Commission calls Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and other EU states (totally 10 countries) to transpose all provisions of the Seasonal Workers Directive correctly. The European Commission decided to open infringement proceedings by sending letters of formal notice respectively to Germany (INFR (2023)2019), Estonia (INFR (2023)2020), Latvia (INFR (2023)2025) and Lithuania (INFR (2023)2023) for failing to transpose in a fully conform manner all provisions of the Seasonal Workers Directive (Directive 2014/36/EU). The Directive aims at ensuring fair and transparent rules for the admission of third-country seasonal workers to the EU. It also aims at granting decent working and living conditions, equal rights and sufficient protection from exploitation. Ensuring the full respect of the Seasonal Workers Directive is an important prerequisite for attracting the workforce needed for seasonal work to the EU and it could also contribute to reducing irregular migration. The Commission is monitoring the way in which all EU states have transposed this legislation into national law. The Commission considers that these Member States have incorrectly transposed and/or implemented some obligations under the Directive. The addressed EU states have now two months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to send them a reasoned opinion.

Reasoned opinion
= Fight against terrorism: Commission calls on Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Finland to ensure correct transposition of EU rules on combating terrorism. The European Commission sends this April a reasoned opinion to Germany (INFR (2021)2045), Lithuania (INFR (2021)2087), Poland (INFR (2021)2046) and Finland (INFR (2021)2126) to correctly transpose certain elements of the EU rules on combating terrorism (Directive (EU) 2017/541). The Directive on combating terrorism is a cornerstone of the EU’s counter-terrorism agenda. It 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. These rules also set out special provisions for victims of terrorism, to ensure they have access to reliable information as well as professional and specialised support services. The EU states had to transpose the Directive into national law by 8 September 2018; after assessing national transposing legislation, the Commission sent letters of formal notice between June and September 2021 to the mentioned states, urging them to take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission with regard to its transposition. The replies from the member states did not sufficiently address the Commission’s concerns. The Commission has therefore decided to issue reasoned opinions to these states, which now have two months to respond and take the necessary measures. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Letters of formal notice
= In the law sector, letters of formal notice were send to Denmark (INFR (2023)2014) and Estonia (INFR (2023)2013) to fully transpose the Directive on accessibility of products and services for persons with disabilities. These states failed so far fully transpose in the national law the EU rules on accessibility of products and services for persons with disabilities (Directive (EU) 2019/882). The European Accessibility Act requires key products and services such as phones, computers, e-books, banking services and electronic communications to be accessible for persons with disabilities. This will help increase active participation in society, including in education and in employment, as well as more autonomy and mobility opportunities of people with disabilities, representing at least 87 million European citizens. Businesses and services must ensure that they comply with a set of common EU accessibility requirements by 2025. On 20 July 2022, the Commission had sent letters of formal notice to 24 EU states for failing to communicate measures fully transposing the Directive. Denmark and Estonia have not fully transposed the European Accessibility Act into their national law by the deadline of 28 June 2022. Now Denmark and Estonia 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 them a reasoned opinion.

Reasoned opinion
= Renewable energy: Commission urges Estonia and Finland to fully transpose the Renewable Energy Directive; presently, the European Commission decided to send reasoned opinions to Estonia (INFR (2021)0200) and Finland (INFR (2021)0230) 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 both EU states; presently, these states have only partially transposed the Directive. They now have two months to comply with the transposition obligation and notify the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

= Energy performance of buildings: Commission urges Poland to fully transpose the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive; presently, the European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Poland (INFR (2020)0228) for failing to ensure full transposition into national law of Directive (EU) 2018/844 which amended Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings. The Directive introduced new elements to strengthen the existing framework, such as minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings, electromobility and recharging points, and new rules on the inspection of heating and air-conditioning systems. The deadline to transpose the Directive into national law expired in March 2020. In February 2022, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Poland after concluding that not all the provisions of the Directive had been transposed into national law. Having examined the reply from Poland as well as the national transposition measures notified, the Commission considers that Poland has still not fully transposed the Directive. Poland now has two months to comply with the transposition obligation and notify the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

= Internal energy market: Commission urges Finland to fully transpose EU rules on the internal electricity market. The European Commission decided to send reasoned opinions to Finland (INFR (2021) 0045) for not having fully transposed EU rules for the internal electricity market set out in Directive (EU) 2019/944, amending Directive 2012/27/EU.

Letters of formal notice
= Anti-Money Laundering: Commission calls on Latvia (and two other EU states) to correctly transpose the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, AML. The European Commission decided to open an infringement procedure by sending letters of formal notice to e.g. Latvia (INFR (2023)2028) on the grounds of the country’s incorrect transposition of the 5th AML Directive 2018/843. Although Latvia has notified a complete transposition of the Directive, the Commission has nevertheless identified several instances of incorrect transposition (non-conformity) of the Directive into national law, which affect, among others, fundamental aspects like: the obligation to register, license or regulate services providers (for Latvia) and the obligation to establish a payment and bank accounts register (Latvia). Anti-money laundering rules are instrumental in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. Legislative gaps occurring in one EU state can have an impact on the EU as a whole. That is why EU rules should be implemented and supervised efficiently to combat crime and protect the EU financial system. Hence, Latvia has two months to reply and take the necessary measures; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer these cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Referrals to the Court of Justice
= The European Commission decides to refer Denmark (INFR (2021)2072) to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with EU rules on provision of coach and bus cabotage services under Regulation No 1073/2009. The Regulation provides a definition of cabotage according to which EU carriers are free to provide occasional road passenger transport services on a temporary basis in the EU states other than the one of establishment, under the sole requirement that they hold an EU-wide license. The Commission considers that the Danish interpretation of this provision, strictly limiting these cabotage operations to seven consecutive days per month, does not allow for a wide number of transport operations to be carried out on the territory of Denmark, despite their clear temporary nature. This referral to the Court is the next step in the infringement procedure launched by the Commission in June 2021 against Denmark with a letter of formal notice. As the Danish authorities did not respond adequately to the concerns of the Commission on the interpretation of the notion of temporary basis, and did not include any commitment to remedy the incompatibility, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion in May 2022, followed by the present referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The full press release is available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_23_1944

More general information on the EU infringement procedure in: = Full Q&A and the EU infringement decisions’ register.

 

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