A large number of cross-border offences which carry a financial penalty are currently going unpunished due to their transnational nature. Today's systems of enforcement either do not work or are slow and inefficient. Ensuring a high level of safety within an area of freedom, security and justice requires the punishment of low- as well as high-level crimes.
Why should the EU take action?
EU citizens benefit from freedom of movement. In order to tackle non-payment of financial penalties committed in another EU country, specific measures that allow the national courts effectively to impose and enforce financial penalties against offenders need to be taken.
The EU needs to act in order to ensure that all its citizens are treated equally wherever they live, move or travel in the EU.
In this context, such equal treatment means that non-residents should not be in a more favourable position than residents, because they would be able to escape paying a financial penalty by going back to their home countries.
In February 2005, the Council adopted the Council Framework Decision on the application of the principle of mutual recognition for financial penalties.
This enables a judicial or administrative authority to transmit a financial penalty directly to an authority in another EU country and to have that penalty recognised and executed without any further formality.
The procedure applies in situations where a fine is imposed on a person who is not a resident of the EU country where the offence was committed, fails to pay the fine and then leaves the territory of that country.
A Dutch driver is stopped by the Romanian traffic police and fined for speeding. The fine should be paid within a week on the basis of the penalty notice he/she has received. The Dutch driver goes back to the Netherlands without paying the fine.
1. On the basis of the Council Framework Decision, the Romanian authorities send the final decision imposing the unpaid fine to the Dutch authorities;
2. The Dutch authorities are obliged in principle to recognise and execute the Romanian decision imposing the fine without any further formality (the fine is executed by the Dutch authorities the same as any other fine imposed by them);
3. The court that receives the fine to be imposed does not review the case, but recognises it without any further formality.
However, this procedure is not automatic and it can be refused in particular circumstances, for example:
- when the same person has already been judged for the same offence;
- when the person is covered by immunity or a certain privilege making prosecution impossible;
- when the fine is for an amount lower than EUR 70.
The deadline for the transposition of the Framework Decision into the EU countries' national laws passed in 2007. The Commission's report on implementation of the Framework Decision showed that not all the EU countries are complying with the basic provisions.