This page gives statistics on single market infringement proceedings that were open on 1 December 2016. All comparisons are with the figures for the last reporting date, 1 December 2015.
The Commission may start ‘infringement proceedings’ if it considers that e.g. a Member State has not transposed an EU directive correctly or on time, or is applying single market rules incorrectly. Infringement proceedings start when the Commission sends a ‘letter of formal notice’ to the Member State in question. However, only the Court of Justice can rule definitively that a breach of EU law has occured.
This page does not include cases of late transposition known as “non-communication cases” – except in the pie chart “Types of cases”. This is to avoid such cases being counted twice as they are already covered in the “Transposition” governance tool.
Single Market legislation
includes measures considered to have an impact on the functioning of the internal market, as defined in Articles 26 and 114(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This includes the four freedoms (freedom of movement of persons, goods, services and capital across borders within the EU), and supporting policies with a direct impact on the single market (such as taxation, employment, social policy, education, culture, public health, consumer protection, energy, transport, environment (except nature protection), information society and media.
1. by indicator
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(all 4 indicators combined)
- Most of the Member States (20) matched their overall performance from December 2015. Only 4 Member States improved their overall performance: Hungary, Poland, Portugal and Romania, while Poland and Portugal left the red zone. The performance of the 4 remaining Member States, Bulgaria, Ireland, Cyprus and Slovakia, was worse than in the previous reporting period.
- Among the Member States that maintained their performance at the same level as in December 2015, 6 are above the EU average: Denmark, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Finland. On the other hand, Ireland is now also below the EU average, in addition to Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy and the UK.
A Member State’s performance across all 4 indicators is calculated by scoring each indicator in chart 1 as follows:
RED = -1, YELLOW = 0 and GREEN = +1.
The colours on the map thus represent the sum of these scores:
|2 or higher = above average||-1, 0 or 1 = average||-2 or lower = below average
Indicator : Number of pending infringement proceedings
Note: This indicator is used to give an overview of the number of open infringements in the Member States compared with the EU average. I is not per se a decisive evidence of a higher or lower actual compliance with the Single Market rules.
Total number of cases: down to 674 (from 732 in December 2015)
Average cases per Member State: 24 (26 in December 2015)
Total number of Member States with increase in the number of cases: 7 (down from 11)
Total number of Member States with decrease in the number of cases: 19 (up from 14)
Number of Member States with no change: 2 (down from 3)
- The number of pending infringements has never been lower. In December 2016, the total number of cases reached 674, which is 58 less than in the previous Scoreboard (-8%). 169 cases out of the 732 pending in December 2015 have since been resolved, in particular those on transport (50 cases closed), environment (28), taxation (23) and employment and social affairs (18).
- On the other hand, the last year has seen the launch of 111 new cases (not including those for late transposition). This is a very similar situation to December 2015, when 109 new cases were initiated. 25 of these 111 cases concerned the environment (23%), 23 were on energy (21%) and 22 were on transport (20%).
- With 57 cases (more than twice the EU average), Germany has the highest number of pending cases for the 2nd consecutive time, followed by Spain and France (with 47 and 44 cases respectively).
- Despite having had the highest number of cases for more than 3 years, Italy continued last year’s progress on lowering this number. It has now reached 41 cases, down from 67 in November 2014 (-39%). We see the same for Poland, which has decreased its number of cases by 17 in the last 2 years (-34%). Greece is also moving up in the ranking, having climbed 2 places since last year’s Scoreboard. It has now reached 42 cases, down from 50 (-16%) in December 2015 and from 65 (-35%) in November 2013.
- Some 6 Member States (Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Italy and Portugal) represent 40% of the total number of cases.
Indicator : Change over the last year
Most Member States decreased their number of cases (19) or stayed at the same number (2).
- The Member States that have made the biggest reduction in their number of cases since the previous Scoreboard are Poland (-11), followed by Italy (-9) and Greece (-8). At the other end of the scale, Luxembourg made the biggest – though still moderate – increase (+3).
- The top 3 Member States by reduction percentage only are Estonia (-50%), Malta (-38%) and Poland (-25%). At the opposite end of the scale, Hungary (+27%), Denmark (+14%), Bulgaria and Ireland (+12%) had the highest percentage increase.
- 5 Member States have achieved an uninterrupted reduction in their number of cases: the Netherlands since May 2009 (-65%), Estonia since November 2012 (-77%), Greece since May 2013 (-37%), Belgium and France since November 2013 (respectively -30% and -25%).
Indicator : Duration of infringement proceedings
Change in average case duration: now 36.9 months, up from 30.7 in December 2015.
- Luxembourg and Finland are the 2 only Member States (down from 8 in December 2015) to witness a decrease of the average duration of their cases since the previous Scoreboard.
- Infringements in the other 26 Member States have longer average case durations. The average increase in duration since December 2015 is 6.9 months. The Member States above this average are Malta (+24.6), Estonia (+16.9), Italy (+12.3), Greece (+11.8), Lithuania (+11.7), Slovakia (+9.7), the UK (+9.3), Croatia (+8.8), Cyprus (+8.2), Slovenia (+7.7), Hungary (+7.6) and Romania (+7.4).
- This time, many Member States experienced a sharp increase in case duration. This happens generally when Member States resolve a number of quite recent cases. At the same time, the remaining cases are getting older and are weighing more heavily in the calculation of the average duration.
- Average case duration is above 3 years. Depending on the situation, the delays can be attributable to the national authorities or the Commission. Both should cooperate more closely to quickly resolve problems with applying or complying with single market rules.
Indicator : Time taken to comply with Court ruling
Change in average time lag: further increase from 21 months in December 2015 to 22.4 months
- The average time taken by Member States to comply with a Court of Justice ruling increased again (up to 22.4 months from 17.4 months 3.5 years ago). This was the 7th consecutive period when this happened.
- 3 Member States reduced their average time lag: Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. In December 2015 the figure was 5. The most impressive reduction was in Italy (down 5.5 months). The reduction in the Netherlands and the UK was 0.3%.
- 15 Member States had longer average time lags: Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Cyprus, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden. In December 2015 the figure was 12. Cyprus’ time lag increased by 10 months, Portugal’s by 6.9 months and Slovakia’s by 6.5 months. This statistic is based on cases closed in the last 5 years. Taking a case closed more than 5 years ago out of the statistics or adding a recently closed one can have a major impact on the results, in particular for Member States with only a few cases.
- For 5 Member States (3 in the last report), the average time lag is over 2 years: Ireland, Greece and Italy have been joined by Spain and Portugal, which are now above this threshold. These are also the top 5 Member States with the biggest time lags, as they were 1 year ago.
- In general, Member States with only a few rulings against them need less time to comply. But not always: Malta (3 rulings only) has a compliance lag twice as long as Austria’s (9 rulings); also, although Malta and France have similar time lags (21.1 and 20.0 months respectively), France has 6 times more rulings than Malta (20 as opposed to 3).
Iceland, Liechtenstein & Norway
These countries are also subject to Single Market rules under the EEA Agreement. They are monitored by the EFTA Surveillance Authority.
However, there is a time lag between when a legal act is adopted or repealed in the EU and when it is added to or removed from the EEA Agreement. This means that the body of EU law that applies in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway may differ from what applies in the EU. This should be borne in mind when comparing this scoreboard and the EEA Scoreboard.
Number of pending cases
Total cases open: 172 (up from 113 in December 2015), of which:
incorrect transposition/application: 62 (see figure above)= 36% of all open infringement cases (Iceland 21, Liechtenstein 17 and Norway 34)
late transposition (directives): 24 (Iceland 18, Liechtenstein 4 and Norway 2) = 14%
late implementation* (regulations): 86 (Iceland 82 and Norway 4)= 50%
* Under Article 7 of the EEA Agreement regulations incorporated into the Agreement “shall as such be made part of the internal legal order” of the EEA EFTA countries. In Liechtenstein, however, regulations are directly applicable and do not have to be implemented.
- In the previous three scoreboards, the EFTA States’ total number of infringement cases on incorrect transposition or application of single market rules saw a steady decrease. However, the December 2016 figure of 62 cases is an increase of 10 cases since the last report and is more than the double the 28 cases reported in May 2011.
- There has been a small increase in the number of cases on late transposition of directives: 24 pending infringement cases in this Scoreboard, compared to 22 in the last Scoreboard.
- However, on the incorporation of regulations, a substantial increase of 47 cases has been observed. This is due to the considerable increase of cases against Iceland, from 33 in the previous Scoreboard to 82 currently. These are mainly in the sector of food and feed safety, animal health and welfare.
- Problematic sectors – Food and feed safety, animal health and welfare (62), Transport (28), Goods – technical barriers (27).
Facts and figures
Cases by sector
Sectors with the biggest number of infringement cases
Environment: 23.7% of all cases (especially atmospheric pollution, water protection and management & waste management)
Transport: 22.3% (especially air transport )
Taxation: 13.8% (evenly balanced between direct & indirect taxation)
Problematic sectors by Member State
Environment: Greece (40% of all cases), Italy (37%) and Spain (36%)
- Transport: Portugal (33% of all cases) and Germany (26%)
- Taxation: around one third of France’s total cases. Also an issue for Belgium (23% of all cases) and Germany (21%).
Average duration by sector
Longest average duration (in months):
- air transport (from 49.5 to 60.7)
- free movement of persons and Union citizenship (from 45.2 to 54.9)
- environmental impact (from 32.8 to 47.2)
- water protection and management (from 35.6 to 45.7)
Environmental impact has replaced atmospheric pollution in the top 3 since last year.
- The comment above on the increase in case duration by Member State is also relevant for case duration by sector. When a substantial number of quite recent cases are resolved, the remaining cases, which are getting older, weigh more heavily in the calculation of the average duration.
- Air transport – in many cases the figure was inflated by factors outside the control of either the national authorities or the Commission. The number of pending cases is stable since December 2015 and the average duration has increased by 11 months.
- Road and rail transport and transport safety remain in the top 3 of sectors with the shortest average duration. This was despite a sharp decrease in the number of cases (from 38 to 24 for road and rail transport and from 41 to 23 for transport safety).
Types of cases
64% of cases are for late or incorrect transposition of directives (up from 55% in December 2015)
82% of cases relate to directives (up from 76%)
18% concern regulations, decisions and Treaty articles (down from 24%)
- The number of pending infringement cases for late transposition (736) is much higher than the 433 cases where no transposition measures were notified to the Commission. This is because the Commission needs time to assess the completeness of measures notified and possibly close the non-communication proceedings. For more on this see the "Transposition deficit" indicator in the "Transposition" governance tool.
- Compared to 1 year ago, the figures for infringement cases over late transposition and for missing notifications have sharply increased, from 482 to 736 (+53%) and from 204 to 433 (+112%) respectively. This exceptional increase is due to the large number of recent directives included in EU single market legislation as of 1 December 2016 that had a transposition date within the year before the cut-off date for the calculation. This situation resulted in a significant number of notifications reaching the Commission in a short time, with most of them being under examination when the cut-off date occurred.
- Good cooperation between Member States and the Commission can help decrease the time needed to assess national legislation implementing a directive, which can bring down the number of pending cases. In particular, the information Member States provide when notifying national transposition measures must be as clear and specific as possible: for example, they should indicate precisely which laws, regulations and administrative provisions will in their view satisfy the various requirements of the directive, and provide explanatory documents when so envisaged in the Directive.