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Infringements


Overview

Under the Treaties the Commission is responsible for ensuring that Community law is correctly applied. As the guardian of the EC Treaty, the Commission has the option of commencing infringement proceedings under Article 226 EC against a Member State, which in the eyes of the Commission infringes Community law. The Commission can try to bring the infringement to an end, and, if necessary, may refer the case to the Court of Justice.

When the Commission decides to open infringement procedure the Commission allows the Member State to present its views regarding the Commission’s observations through the letter of formal notice. If no reply to the letter of formal notice is received, or if the observations presented by the Member State in reply to that notice cannot be considered satisfactory, the Commission will move to the next stage of infringement procedure.

The reasoned opinion expresses the Commission’s view that an infringement exists and asks the Member state to remove it within the stated time limit. If no reply to the reasoned opinion is received from the Member State or if the reply is unsatisfactory, the Commission has the possibility to refer the case to the Court of Justice. The Commission is not obliged to do so, but in practice the Commission has always considered that a Member State, which does not follow a reasoned opinion and bring its legislation into conformity with Community law, should be brought in front of the Court of Justice.

The Commission’s annual reports on the application of Community law have been published since 1982 and are designed to give the public access to information on ongoing legal proceedings.

In addition, on the website of the Court of Justice of the European Communities one has access to judgements delivered by the Court. All judgments may be consulted also via EUR-Lex.

Overall view of the implementation of Community Directives and the Commission infringement proceedings is given on the Secretariat-General website.

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last update: 11-02-2009