Despite the pressing need for renewed growth in Europe, the latest Commission figures show that Member States are increasingly failing to deliver on pledges to turn EU laws into national ones and enforce them. MEPs worry that this hinders economic recovery and call, in a resolution adopted on Tuesday, for fast-track infringement procedures and an independent internal market prosecutor with the power to institute infringement proceedings.
"Unless more is done for EU legislation to be transposed and implemented correctly in the shortest time possible our citizens and enterprises cannot reap the benefits of the internal market. Member States therefore need ambitious targets, and they need to stick to their commitments", Parliament's rapporteur Simon Busuttil (EPP, MT) said in the plenary debate on Monday.
His non-binding resolution presents Parliament's response to the Commission's 2011 Internal Market Scoreboard, which shows that although Member States have reduced the share of EU directives long overdue for transposition into national laws, the overall share of overdue directives, known as the "transposition deficit", still averages 1.2%, despite the 1% target agreed by Heads of State and governments in 2007. The share of incorrectly-transposed ones still averages 0.8%.
In the past few months as many as seven Member States have fallen even further behind in the transposing of EU directives.
Besides further reducing the current transposition deficit, MEPs insist that Member States must formally accept tougher transposition goals, which would limit both the transposition and the compliance deficits to 0.5% each.
In an amendment tabled by the rapporteur, Parliament calls on the Commission to ensure that infringements of EU law are pursued swiftly and asks for the establishment of a "fast-track infringement procedure" through an internal market prosecutor within the Commission. The currently average duration of infringement proceedings (over two years and rising), is too long, they say.
The prosecutor should have sufficient independence to institute infringement proceedings free from political pressure. However, infringement procedures should still be approved by the College of Commissioners, says the text.
To use transparency and better monitoring as tools to improve implementation, more information is needed on the quality of transposition. We need a better understanding of "the lost opportunities", Committee Chair Malcolm Harbour (ECR; UK) said, describing the current state of the single market as "a Ferrari motoring around in second gear".
The resolution also focuses on delivering single market benefits directly to citizens and businesses by strengthening problem-solving services, and notably by further developing the "Your Europe" portal, supplemented by a single human point of contact via the Commission's representative offices in each Member State.
The resolution was adopted with 607 votes in favour, 37 against and 4 abstentions.