The European Commission has requested that Belgium and Germany update their legislation in line with EU rules on combating late payment in commercial transactions, as neither country met the required deadline of 16 March 2013 to do so.
Late payments constitute a major obstacle to the free movement of goods and services in the internal market as they impose administrative and financial burdens on companies, impede cross-border trade, and distort competition.
The Directive on combating late payment in commercial transactions harmonises the period for payment by public authorities to businesses: public authorities must pay for the goods and services that they procure within 30 days or, in very exceptional circumstances, within 60 days. If the Directive is not transposed in time, enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized ones (SMEs), will continue to be at risk of liquidity problems and may end up in bankruptcy.
The Commission therefore issued reasoned opinions asking Belgium and Germany to update their legislation. If the Member States concerned do not inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure full compliance with their obligations under the Directive, the Commission may decide to refer them to the European Court of Justice.