Non-implementation of EU law
Insurance law and consumer protection
Seven EU countries have been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for not implementing Directive 2001/17/EC which guarantees consumer protection when insurance companies are wound up. The deadline was 20th April 2003. The countries affected are: Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and the UK.
Lawyers – right of establishment
The Commission has decided to refer France, Ireland and Spain to the ECJ for failure to implement Directive 98/5/EC which aims to entitle lawyers to practice in another Member State on the same basis as the host country’s own lawyers.
Subscription TV and Radio
Belgium, Greece Luxembourg and Spain are being referred to the ECJ for non-implementation of Directive 98/84 on the legal protection of conditional access services - television, radio and on-line services - offered to the public at a distance and subject to payment. The implementation deadline was 28 May 2000.
Copyright - public lending of works
Belgium is being sent a ‘reasoned opinion1’ regarding the non-implementation of Directive 92/100/CEE on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright. This Directive should have been applied as from 1994 and Belgium has still not adopted the implementing decrees on public lending rights.
Money laundering: complaint against six countries
Six EU countries have failed to implement the Second Anti-Money Laundering Directive (97/2001/EC) and are being sent a ‘reasoned opinion’ by the European Commission. The countries concerned are: Italy, Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Luxembourg and France. None of these Member States has yet notified the Commission of their measures to write the Directive into national law.
Financial reporting by sports clubs questioned
The Commission has asked Italy for information about a recent national law on financial reporting (‘Salva calcio’ decree) by professional sports clubs (including Serie A football clubs) in Italy. The Commission is concerned that the legislation may breach EU laws on accounting and grant financial advantages over other clubs in Europe.
Free movement of goods
One-way packaging levy (Dosenpfand): a barrier to imports
The European Commission has sent Germany a formal request for information concerning the functioning of its deposit and return systems on certain kinds of ‘one-way’ (recyclable but non-reusable) beverage packaging such as cans and plastic bottles. The Commission is concerned that the way in which the systems function may constitute a disproportionate barrier to the free movement of packaged beverages from other Member States.
Foodstuffs authorisation: French procedure opposed
Following complaints to the Commission by traders, the ECJ has ruled against the French procedure for prior authorisation for the marketing of foodstuffs for human consumption enriched with nutrients, manufactured and marketed in the Member States.
Parallel imports of pesticides: regulations incompatible
The Commission is to ask the ECJ to rule that German regulations on plant health products are incompatible with the Treaty. When the marketing authorisation (MA) for a plant health reference product is withdrawn, Germany does not grant parallel importers an appropriate transitional period in which to liquidate their stocks.
Stuffed animals: Dutch export restriction unjustified
The Dutch authorities have been informed that the Commission considers that the country’s ban on exports of certain types of stuffed animal to other Member States is an obstacle to the free movement of goods.
Hospital medicines: German restrictions under scrutiny
The Commission has decided to ask Germany to modify its legislation on supplying hospitals with medicines. Hospitals are required to obtain supplies from pharmacies which are located in the same or a neighbouring district. The Commission finds that this legislation is disproportionate and exceeds what is necessary to protect human health.
Parallel imports of medicines: Belgian obstacles
Belgian legislation lays down that authorisation for parallel importing of a medicine is automatically rescinded when the marketing authorisation for a similar medicine on the Belgian market (reference product) is withdrawn or, at the holder’s request, is not renewed. This automatic withdrawal forces parallel importers to submit a new file, and to bear additional costs. The Commission considers that this requirement is a disproportionate obstacle to the free movement of goods and has sent a ‘reasoned opinion’ to Belgium.
Private import of alcoholic beverages: Sweden out of line
The Commission has sent a ‘reasoned opinion’ to Sweden concerning a ban on individuals bringing alcoholic beverages, through an independent intermediary, from other Member States into Sweden. If consumers in Sweden cannot themselves physically transport the product into the country, their only option is to request Systembolaget, the national alcohol retail monopoly, to bring it in on their behalf. The Commission’s view is that protecting human health from the effects of excessive alcohol consumption could be achieved by other means that restrict trade between the Member States less.
Austrian ‘quality label’ could be restrictive
In Austria, a quality label “AUSTRIA-Gütezeichen” is granted for Austrian products. Products from elsewhere can also receive quality labels, but these take a different form. The Commission has sent Austria a ‘reasoned opinion’ stating that the form of quality labels must not depend on the origin of products. The Commission considers that this arrangement could make it more difficult for products from the other Member States to be sold on the Austrian market.
French public procurement law: competition needed in certain areas.
The European Commission has decided to take France to the ECJ for non-compliance of some provisions of its procurement code with the Directives on public contracts and the EC Treaty. Certain services such as loans contracts and legal services are concerned. In addition, the Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to France against its town planning legislation which allows local development agreements to be concluded without being advertised and without competition.
Unsuccessful tenderers: effective review needed
The European Commission has decided to formally request that Belgium, Ireland and UK introduce public procurement procedures permitting a decision awarding a public procurement contract to be suspended and annulled at a stage where the infringement can still be rectified. The ‘reasoned opinions’ have been issued owing to the failure of these Member States to comply with the obligations of the remedies Directives applicable in the public procurement area.
Free movement of services
Energy production concessions: restrictive
The Commission has decided to send Italy a reasoned opinion on grounds of the incompatibility of its legislation on granting hydroelectric concessions with the principle of freedom of establishment. Its procedures for granting concessions give preference to outgoing concession-holders and, in the Trentino-Alto Adige Region, to local public bodies.
Tourist guides: non-recognition of qualifications
The European Commission has decided to take action before the ECJ to put an end to the major administrative difficulties that tourist guides with professional qualifications obtained in another Member State are likely to encounter in France as a result of France’s failure to apply correctly two European Directives on the recognition of professional qualifications.
If the Commission obtains or receives from a complainant convincing evidence that an infringement of EU law is taking place, it first sends the Member States concerned a letter of formal notice.
If the Member State does not reply with information allowing the case to be closed, the Commission sends a reasoned opinion, the second step of the infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may then decided to refer the case to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
More detailed information on the items mentioned and on other Internal Market cases can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/en/update/infr/index.htm
The implementation of EU Directives agreed by Member States is monitored by the European Commission. As guardian of the EC Treaty, the Commission has responsibility to pursue any failure to implement on time, or to apply measures correctly.
Further information at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/en/update/infr/index.htm