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Monitoring of the application of EU law

justice © Iryna Petrenko -

The Commission monitors the application of EU law in the Member States. Any person or entity can challenge a measure or an administrative practice in a Member State by lodging a complaint with the Secretariat-General. Complaints made help the Commission detect and rectify infringements of EU law. The Commission may also act on its own initiative.

By virtue of Article 17 of the TEU [2 MB], the Commission is "Guardian of the Treaties", ensuring the uniform application of EU law by the Member States. Article 258 TFEU [2 MB] enables the Commission to initiate legal proceedings against a Member State that has adopted or maintained in force rules or administrative practices which contravene EU law.

Infringement proceedings aim to encourage Member States to comply as quickly as possible with EU law. The first step is informal contact with the national authorities. If this fails, the Commission refers the case to the Court of Justice for judgement. Where judgement is given against the Member State but it does not take the steps necessary to comply, the Commission can go back to the Court under Article 260 TFEU [2 MB]. A complainant does not become a party to these proceedings - only the Commission and the Member State . The Court does not rule for or against the complainant but simply ensures that Member States comply with EU law. So, the complainant should make use of any available remedies at national level as this enables him/her to assert his/her rights more directly. Only national courts can order the Member State to pay damages. (Cases C-46/93 and C-48/93 5 March 1996 - "Brasserie du Pêcheur SA").

DG Enterprise and Industry manages over 500 pieces of secondary legislation on the Internal Market for goods and articles 34 to 36 of the TFEU which govern the free movement of goods for which no more detailed EU rules have been enacted (the 'non-harmonised area').

Monitoring the transposition of directives is a priority for the Commission. The current state of communication of national transposition measures by sector and by Member State appears on the website of the Secretariat General and DG Internal Market and Services: "Internal Market Scoreboard".

Articles 34 to 36 of the TFEU [2 MB] prohibit Member States from maintaining or imposing barriers on intra-EU trade in goods. These provisions give rise to the principle of mutual recognition whereby each Member State is obliged to accept onto its market products which are legally manufactured or marketed in another Member State. Member States can only refuse to apply this principle in cases where there is an overriding public interest (e.g. public safety, public or animal health or the protection of the environment). Even then, all trade restrictive measures taken must be necessary for, and proportionate to, the protection of the public interest concerned.

Some decisions on recent infringement proceedings can be found on the website of the Secretariat General and on the RAPID press release website. In addition, the judgments of the Court of Justice appear on its website.

Furthermore, the annual reports of the Commission on monitoring the application of EU law provide details on the situation in each sector and each Member State.



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