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Reporting period: 11/2012 - 05/2013

Infringements

About

The infringement statistics highlight the infringement backlog of the various Member States, commend any efforts undertaken to improve the resolution of cases and encourage improved performances by the Member States.

As guardian of the Treaties, it is the Commission's task to ensure that both Treaty provisions and acts adopted by the EU institutions are correctly implemented and applied by the Member States. If after preliminary consultations in EU Pilot, the Commission considers that EU rules are not being properly applied, it may open infringement proceedings against the Member States in question. However, only the Court of Justice can rule definitively that a breach of EU law has occurred.

Infringement proceedings

"Infringement proceedings" are to be understood as covering all cases where transposition is presumed not to comply with the directive it transposes or where Single Market rules (either in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union or in the secondary legislation) are presumed to have been incorrectly applied and where a letter of formal notice has been sent to the Member State in question. In order to avoid double counting, cases of failure to notify transposition are excluded from this chapter except in Figure "Types of infringements".

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Performance

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Indicators [1] and [2]: An average (+/- 10 %) score was rated as "yellow"; a score below it as "red" and a score above it as "green".
Indicator [3]: Duration of more than 18 months was rated as "red", between 8 and 18 months, as "yellow", and less than 8 months as "green".

 

Overall performance

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A country's overall performance is calculated by attributing the following values to each of its three indicators: red = -1, yellow = 0 and green = 1.

Final colours are attributed based on the sum of the scores:

2 or higher => green

-1, 0 or 1 => yellow

-2 or lower => red

 

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The EU average number of infringement proceedings has decreased slightly from 31 cases to 30 cases, which reflects the slow but steady decline in the number of pending infringement cases among the Member States. In the past six months Greece and to a lesser extent Denmark and Slovakia have reversed the improvements made in the last Scoreboard in terms of reducing their level of infringements pending per Member State. In the context of this increase, Italy again holds the position of the Member State with the highest number of infringement cases, with its current score being over twice the EU average. Over the past six months, Greece has replaced Spain as the Member State with the second highest level of infringement cases pending.

While eight Member States have increased their pending infringement cases by between one and six cases since the last Scoreboard, the UK and Belgium have cut their case backlog by the most since the previous Scoreboard, with a decrease in pending infringement proceedings falling by 6 in each Member State. With this score, Belgium has improved by 15 cases in the last year and is no longer in the group of the worst three Member States in terms of infringements.

 

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When conformity problems arise in relation to Single Market rules or their application, it is imperative that they are addressed quickly to ensure that citizens and businesses are able to exercise their rights in the Single Market. As half of the cases take over two years to be settled, special attention should be given to the time required to settle infringement proceedings.

The duration of infringement proceedings increased again slightly over since November 2012, with a current delay of 27 months. While nine Member States have successfully reduced the average time it takes to resolve a case, other Member States seem to have gone significantly backward in their efforts to curb their average case length. The most telling examples are Latvia, who has extended its average case duration by ten months and Finland and Malta who have done so by seven months. The three Member States have now joined the group of Member States with a case duration of 30 months or longer. Luxembourg, while taking the second-shortest case duration among the EU Member States, has increased the length of its cases by almost five months.

It should be recalled that, in those key areas likely "to bring about the most significant gains in growth and jobs" as identified by its Communication on Better Governance for the Single Marketpdf Choose translations of the previous link , the Commission calls on Member States to ensure quick compliance in order that the duration of infringement procedures be reduced to 18 months on average.

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Despite the concerns expressed six months ago, i.e., that the time-lag in compliance with EU law following a court judgment had remained too high for too long, the EU average duration increased again to 17.6 months over the last six months. Cases against 14 Member States are on average open more than 12 months after the intial court ruling, with cases concerning seven of these Member States taking longer than the EU average.

The average delay between court rulings on Spanish cases and the closure of these cases,  i.e., compliance, has shortened over the past six months, which means that they are no longer the most delayed infringement cases. There was one Czech case closed in the period since November 2012, which took over two years to resolve. The significant delay in the closure of this case has resulted in the Czech Republic being recorded as the Member State with the most significant time lag between Court judgments and compliance in this Scoreboard.

 

Performance of EEA EFTA countries

The purpose of the Agreement on the European Economic Area is to extend the Single Market of the European Union to the Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, i.e., to the three EEA EFTA States. This agreement aimed to ensure that businesses and individuals in those countries have the same rights as those in the EU Member States.

Difficulties may arise from the fact that the Single Market acquis applicable in EEA EFTA States does not coincide exactly with that which is applicable in EU Member States. The reasoning behind this is often a consequence of to the time lag which occurs between the adoption or abrogation of legal acts by the EU and their incorporation into or deletion from the EEA Agreement. Any comparison of the results from the two Scoreboards (this one and the EEA EFTA Scoreboard) has to take this difference into account.

On 1 May 2013, a total of 181 infringement cases were being pursued by the EFTA Surveillance Authority. Compared to the last Scoreboard this constitutes a reduction of 17 cases. 61 of these cases concerned the incorrect implementation or application of Internal Market rules, a further 38 of these cases concerned the late transposition of directives (IS 29, LI 4, and NO 5). The remaining 82 cases concerned the late transposition of regulations (IS 63 and NO 19).

It follows from Article 7 of the EEA Agreement that regulations incorporated into the Agreement shall "as such" be made part of the internal legal order of the EEA EFTA States. As a consequence of the monistic legal order of Liechtenstein, regulations are directly applicable and do not have to be transposed.

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Achievements

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The level of pending infringement procedures among the EU Member States has evolved significantly over time, levelling off to a steady decline since November 2007. In April 2008, the Commission put the "EU Pilot" project in place with fifteen volunteer Member States in order to enhance cooperation and early problem-solving (prior to the launch of formal infringement proceedings) on the application of EU law. It is now one year since Luxembourg and Malta joined EU Pilot, which marked the inclusion of the final Member States in the scheme. EU Pilot is expected to continue to make a positive contribution to the continued cooperation between the Commission and participating Member Statespdf Choose translations of the previous link  in answering enquiries and resolving the problems of citizens, business and civil society interests more speedily.

This decline in cases shows that many infringement proceedings and potential violations of EU law can be solved at an earlier stage and thus formal procedures can be avoided using these systems. The level of pending infringement proceedings concerning the Single Market has reduced by 35 over the last 12 months, which is a slower decline that the drop of 158 cases between May 2011 and May 2012, and the 228 fall in the previous year. In the past six months, eight Member States have also increased their backlog of cases, which is especially worrying considering that some of these Member States had shown progress in the last scoreboard.

Evolution of infringement cases broken down by Member State

 

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Facts and figures

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This table shows the total number of infringement cases for each Member State and broken down by sector as at 1 May 2013. Sectors with less than 20 infringement proceedings (such as energy, free movement of capital, free movement of professionals, information society and media and public procurement) are included in "other fields". The highlighted figures show the sector(s) with the highest number of infringement cases in each Member State.

These figures show that there has been little change in the pending infringement cases as far as its allocation by sector is concerned. The major concerns continue to be mainly in the areas of (both direct and indirect) taxation and the environment (water protection and waste management particularly), which together account for 42 % of the cases. The single most relevant sector for a Member State is the issue of Belgian compliance with the EU rules on direct taxation. 18 of the 49 pending infringement proceedings involving Belgium relate to this issue.

The free movement of goods continues to be an issue for France, Germany and Greece, while Germany also has pending infringement cases in to the area of services.

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The infringement proceedings which concern the services, air transport and justice sectors tend to have the longest duration, tending to last an average of 49.8, 39.5 and 38.1 months respectively. Despite being one of the priority sectors identified by the Governance Communication, the duration of infringement cases involving services take has actually increased by over 7 months since November 2012.

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While the nature of infringement proceedings has remained largely the same over the past six months, there has been a slight decrease in the number of cases for the late transposition and wrong application of directives. Just over half of the cases (50.3%) related to the wrong application of Single Market rules, as opposed to transposition-related cases.

The number of infringements open for late transposition (423 cases) is higher than the number of national transposition measures not notified in time by the Member States (232). This is due to time lapse between the actual notification and the closure of the infringement proceedings.