On 12 July 2018 European Commission (the “Commission”) has announced Annual Report on monitoring the application of EU law (the „Report“) in EU member states.
Preparation of the Report is a long lasting tradition since the 1984 and a period of EEC. The Report is made each year and contains information for the preceding year. It is made based on the request of the European Parliament, which eventually adopts a resolution on the Report, once the Commission prepares it and determine its content.
Speaking of divided responsibilities between the EU institutions, it should be noticed that the Commission has general responsibility to initiate the legislative process. European Parliament and the Council decide on the proposal and if formally adopted, Commission (once again) becomes responsible for the monitoring phase, ensuring proper implementation of the respective EU law between the member states. Commission is also in charged for initiation of the infringement procedure in case that member states fail to comply with the laws.
Report once again firmly emphasizes importance of cooperation between the Commission and the member states, as the key factor for implementation of the EU law. As a good example of this collaboration, the Commission highlights assistance to member states in their preparation for the entry into force of the GDPR (Regulation (EU) 2016/679).
Member states are encouraged to implement EU law „correctly and without undue delay“, as this represents the only way that will enable EU to deliver its policy and to fulfill the agenda related to strengthening of competitiveness, through creation of proper regulatory environment and supporting of businesses and new jobs.
Decreasing number of new infringement procedures related to late transposition of laws is easily noticeable, as this number was reduced for 34% compared to the previous year. In global, the Report indicates decrease by almost 6% of totally opened infringement cases compared to the previous year. Contrary to this, the Commission launched new infringement procedures against several member states as they failed to transpose the Directives on the use of plastic bags, on waste and on the road worthiness of vehicles.
Belgium, Cyprus, and Portugal lead a group of countries that had the highest amount of open cases related to late transposition, with the Italy, Denmark, and Hungary at the “bottom” of this group. Spain, Italy and Germany had the highest number of cases pending for incorrect transposition and/or wrong application of the EU law and Denmark (again) has the lowest number of open cases last year.
Speaking of areas in which most cases were initiated, there were transport, environment, financial stability, services and capital markets on front.
There are novelties in respect of further development of infringement policy. Namely, the Commission undertakes its commitment to be “more strategic in enforcing EU law”, so it “closed cases when that appeared appropriate from a policy point of view”, stipulating this was the case with infringement procedures against a number of member states in the area of gambling.
At the same time, Commission has prioritized investigation on member states in respect of transposing of directives, by insisting on strengthening of the penalty policy. The Commission advocates principle of imposing of lump sum penalties, as well as a periodic penalty payment in case that member states fail to transpose directives promptly.
Energy Union and Sustainable Development
The European Energy Union (“Energy Union”) allows liberated flow of energy within the EU, in order to enable secure, affordable and clean energy for households and business entities. Apart from this, Energy Union supports development of new technologies and infrastructure, in order to decrease household bills and create more jobs. The main objective is to ensure sustainable energy consumption by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and use of fossil fuels.
The Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive both stipulate rights and provide information significant for consumers and they needs. This led to initiation of the infringement procedure in several EU countries during 2017.
Enforcement in implementation of safety measures related to offshore oil and gas operations was one of the top priorities in the last year.
Commission initiated several infringement procedures for failure of some members to implement the amending Nuclear Safety Directive on time.
As a part of the measures intended to implement Paris Agreement, the Commission has proposed an ambitious target to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below ‘90 levels until 2030. This request for a strict and full implementation and enforcement of the existing climate legislation, which was reflected in the Report.
The Commission has initiated infringement procedures against majority of the member states (except five of them) for not transposing the Directive on fuel quality. Respective Directive treats the issue of greenhouse gas emissions from the “use of polluting road transport fuels by requiring suppliers to reduce the average emissions of such fuels”.
The Commission undertake different measures in order to ensure member states will comply with the Directive on the geological storage of carbon dioxide and the Regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases. Another underlined topic is reducing of greenhouse gas emissions from shipping.
A Clean Mobility Package adopted in last quarter of 2017 should promote and increase usage of clean vehicles. In this sense, the Directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure should set a joint framework for increased use of these fuels across Europe, simultaneously decreasing usage of oil in transportation. However, 21 of the member states failed to implement this Directive, which led to launching of infringement procedures against each of these states by the Commission.
When it comes to the environment, improvement of air quality remains a hot topic. The Report underlines that the air quality “causes more deaths than road traffic accidents”, which is a major and urgent problem.
There were 30 infringement procedures initiated in the past year, over excessive levels of polluting substances in the air. Pollutants mostly comes from “human activities” (transport, industry and domestic heating) causing respiratory problems and lungs daisies.
Member states are also encouraged to improve their systems for collection and treating the urban waste waters. If not treated properly, this becomes risk for human health, inland waters and the marine environment.
There are still some member states which failed to implement the revised EIA Directive in their national legislation and the Commission initiated infringement procedures against them.
Another interesting topic in 2017 is launching of the infringement procedures against 16 member states who “failed to adopt measures to reduce the use of lightweight plastic carrier bags, as required by the Plastic Bags Directive”. This piece of legislation stipulates that the member states should ensure suppliers to putt the price on lightweight plastic carrier bags and/or to ensure that a limited number of these bags are used per person a year.