Procedure : 2013/2119(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0055/2014

Texts tabled :

A7-0055/2014

Debates :

PV 03/02/2014 - 14
CRE 03/02/2014 - 14

Votes :

PV 04/02/2014 - 6.5

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2014)0051

REPORT     
PDF 187kWORD 96k
27 January 2014
PE 524.709v02-00 A7-0055/2014

on the 29th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2011)

(2013/2119(INI))

Committee on Legal Affairs

Rapporteur: Eva Lichtenberger

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 OPINION of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs
 OPINION of the Committee on Petitions
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the 29th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2011)

(2013/2119(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the 29th annual report on monitoring the application of European Union law (2011) (COM(2012)0714),

–   having regard to the Commission’s ‘EU Pilot Evaluation Report’ (COM(2010)0070),

–   having regard to the Commission’s ‘Second Evaluation Report on EU Pilot’ (COM(2011)0930),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 5 September 2007 entitled ‘A Europe of results – applying Community law’ (COM(2007)0502),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 20 March 2002 on relations with the complainant in respect of infringements of Community law (COM(2002)0141),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 2 April 2012 entitled ‘Updating the handling of relations with the complainant in respect of the application of Union law’ (COM (2012)0154),

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on the twenty-seventh annual report on monitoring the application of European Union law (2009)(1),

–   having regard to the legal opinion of 26 November 2013 of the Legal Service of the European Parliament on ‘Access to information about pre-infringement cases in the context of the EU Pilot and the annual report on the monitoring of the application of EU law’,

–   having regard to the Commission staff working documents accompanying the 29th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (SWD(2012)0399 and SWD(2012)0400),

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Petitions (A7-0055/2014),

A. whereas the Lisbon Treaty introduced a number of new legal bases intended to facilitate the implementation, application and enforcement of EU law;

B.  whereas Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union defines the right of good administration as the right for every person to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions;

C. whereas according to Article 298 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in carrying out their missions, the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union shall have the support of an open, efficient and independent European administration;

D. whereas according to the Legal Service of the European Parliament, the EU Pilot, an online platform used by the Member States and the Commission to clarify the factual and legal background to problems arising in relation to the application of EU law, does not have any legal status, and whereas according to the Framework Agreement on Relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission, the latter has to make available to Parliament summary information concerning all infringement procedures from the letter of formal notice, including on a case-by-case basis, and may only refuse access to personal data in the EU Pilot;

1.  Reiterates its view that Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) defines the fundamental role of the Commission as ‘guardian of the Treaties’; notes in this context that the Commission’s power and duty to oversee the application of EU law and, inter alia, to launch infringement procedures against a Member State that has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties(2), is a cornerstone of the Union legal order and as such is consistent with the concept of a Union based on the rule of law;

2.  Notes that, according to its annual report(3), the Commission has decreased the number of new infringement procedures in recent years, having opened 2900 such procedures in 2009, 2100 in 2010 and 1775 in 2011; notes, furthermore, that the annual report also shows an increase in late-transposition cases over the last few years (1185 in 2011, 855 in 2010, 531 in 2009), and that the four most infringement-prone policy areas are the environment (17 %), the internal market (15 %), transport (15 %) and taxation (12 %);

3.  Notes the decreasing proportion of infringement cases (60.4 %) closed in 2011 before reaching the Court of Justice, in comparison with 88 % of cases in 2010; believes that it is essential to continue to monitor Member States’ actions carefully, bearing in mind that some of the petitions to Parliament and complaints to the Commission refer to problems that persist even after a matter has been closed;

4.  Notes that in total 399 infringement cases were closed because the Member State demonstrated its compliance with EU law, making serious efforts to settle the infringement without court proceedings; also notes that the Court delivered 62 judgments under Article 258 TFEU in 2011, of which 53 (85 %) were in the Commission’s favour;

5.  Expresses its concern at the steady increase in late-transposition infringements by Member States given that 763 late-transposition cases were still open at the end of 2011, representing a 60 % increase on the equivalent figure for the previous year;

6.  Notes that in late 2011 the Commission referred the first late-transposition infringement to the Court of Justice with a request for financial sanctions under Article 260(3) TFEU;

7.  Considers, nevertheless, that these statistics are not an accurate reflection of the actual deficit in compliance with EU law, but ‘only represent the most serious breaches or the complaints of the most vocal individuals or entities’; notes that the Commission currently has neither the policy nor the resources to systematically identify and enforce all cases of non-implementation’(4);

8.  Draws attention to the fact that the agreement among the EU institutions on declarations setting out the relationship between the components of a directive and the corresponding parts of national transposition instruments (‘correlation tables’) came into force on 1 November 2011, and that it has therefore not been possible to evaluate its implementation in this annual report;

9.  Expects the Commission to provide an initial review of these declarations by 1 November 2014, as promised in its annual report;

10. Believes that, as regards the functioning of infringement procedures under Articles 258 and 260 TFEU, the Commission should ensure that petitions to Parliament and complaints to the Commission are treated with equal consideration;

11. Points out that petitions submitted by EU citizens refer to violations of EU law, particularly in the fields of fundamental rights, the environment, the internal market and property rights; considers that petitions are evidence that there are still frequent and widespread instances of incomplete transposition or of misapplication of EU law;

12. Calls on the Commission to make compliance with EU law a real political priority to be pursued in close collaboration with Parliament, which has a duty (a) to keep the Commission politically accountable and (b), as co-legislator, to make sure that it is itself fully informed with a view to constantly improving its legislative work;

13. Notes that it is necessary, in complaint-handling procedures, systematically to use compliance-promoting tools and to exercise Parliament’s right of scrutiny;

14. Notes that the infringement procedure consists of two phases: the administrative (investigation) stage and the judicial stage before the Court of Justice; notes the Commission’s acknowledgement that ‘citizens, businesses and stakeholder organisations make a significant contribution ... by reporting shortcomings in the transposition and/or application of EU law by Member State authorities; notes, furthermore, that once detected, problems are followed up by bilateral discussions between the Commission and the Member States concerned in order to remedy them, to the extent possible, using the EU Pilot platform’(5);

15. Notes, in this context, that the EU Pilot is defined as a platform for ‘bilateral discussions between the Commission and the Member States’(6) which ‘has no legal status but is a mere working tool in the framework of the Commission’s administrative autonomy’(7) within the pre-infringement procedure;

16. Deplores the EU Pilot’s lack of legal status and considers that ‘legitimacy can only be ensured by enabling transparency, participation of complainants and [of the European Parliament] … in the EU Pilot’, and that legality can be ensured through the adoption as soon as possible of a legally binding act containing the rules governing the whole pre-infringement and infringement procedure, as stated in a recent Parliament study(8); considers that such a legally binding act should clarify the legal rights and obligations of individual complainants and of the Commission, respectively, and strive to allow the participation of complainants in the EU Pilot, as far as possible, at least ensuring that they are informed of the different stages of the procedure;

17. Deplores, in this context, the fact that there has been no follow-up to its previous resolutions, in particular its call for binding rules in the form of a regulation under Article 298 TFEU setting out the various aspects of the infringement and pre-infringement procedure – including notifications, binding time-limits, the right to be heard, the obligation to state reasons and the right for every person to have access to his or her file – so as to reinforce citizens’ rights and guarantee transparency;

18. Takes the view that the implementation of the EU Pilot platform needs to be enhanced in terms of transparency vis-à-vis complainants; requests access to the database in which all complaints are collected, in order to enable Parliament to carry out its function of scrutinising the Commission’s role as guardian of the Treaties;

19. Underlines the importance of good administrative practice and calls for the establishment of a ‘procedural code’ in the form of a regulation, with Article 298 TFEU as its legal basis, which sets out the various aspects of the infringement procedure;

20. Calls once again on the Commission, therefore, to propose binding rules in the form of a regulation under the new legal basis provided by Article 298 TFEU, so as to ensure full respect for citizens’ right to good administration as set out in Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights;

21. Recalls that, in the revised Framework Agreement on its relations with Parliament, the Commission undertakes to ‘make available to Parliament summary information concerning all infringement procedures from the letter of formal notice, including, if so requested by Parliament, … on the issues to which the infringement procedure relates’, and expects this clause to be applied in good faith in practice;

22. Reiterates, therefore, that Parliament is entitled to receive ‘detailed information on specific acts or provisions raising problems of transposition, as well as on the number of complaints for specific acts or provisions’(9), and that, while ‘the Commission is entitled to refuse [the] European Parliament access to personal data of the EU pilot data base’, Parliament is ‘entitled to request information in anonymous form in order to be fully aware of all relevant aspects in the implementation and application of Union law’(10);

23. Welcomes the fact that all the Member States are taking part in the EU Pilot; hopes that this will lead to a further reduction in the number of infringement procedures; calls for more to be done to inform citizens about the EU Pilot;

24. Considers the question of the EU Pilot and, more generally, of infringements of EU law and Parliament’s access to relevant information relating to the pre-infringement and infringement procedure, to be an essential point to be put on the agenda in connection with a future interinstitutional agreement;

25. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice, the European Ombudsman and the parliaments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ C 051 E, 22.02.2013, p. 66.

(2)

Articles 258 and 260 TFEU define the Commission’s powers to launch infringement procedures against a Member State. More specifically, Article 258 states that the Commission shall deliver a reasoned opinion if it considers that a Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties.

(3)

The Commission’s ‘29th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2011)’ (COM(2012)0714), pp. 2-3.

(4)

Study commissioned by Parliament, Policy Department C, ‘Tools for Ensuring Implementation and Application of EU Law and Evaluation of their Effectiveness’, Brussels, 2013, p. 11.

(5)

Commission report (COM(2012)0714), p. 7

(6)

See passage quoted in the preceding paragraph.

(7)

‘Access to information about pre-infringement cases in the context of the EU Pilot and the annual report on the monitoring of the application of EU law’, legal opinion of 26 November 2013 of the Legal Service of the European Parliament.

(8)

‘Tools for Ensuring Implementation and Application of EU Law and Evaluation of their Effectiveness’, p. 13.

(9)

‘Access to information about pre-infringement cases in the context of the EU Pilot and the annual report on the monitoring of the application of EU law’, p. 4.

(10)

Ibid. The Commission already publishes a great deal of information in its annual report on monitoring the application of EU law.


OPINION of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (26.11.2013)

for the Committee on Legal Affairs

on 29th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2011)

(2013/2119(INI))

Rapporteur: Morten Messerschmidt

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Constitutional Affairs calls on the Committee on Legal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Draws attention to the fact that the agreement among the EU institutions on declarations setting out the relationship between the components of a directive and the corresponding parts of national transposition instruments (‘correlation tables’) came into force on 1 November 2011 and it has therefore not been possible to evaluate its implementation in this annual report;

2.  Expects the Commission to provide a first review of these declarations by 1 November as promised in the annual report;

3.  Expresses its concern at the steady increase in late transposition infringements by Member States given that 763 late transposition cases were still open at the end of 2011, which represented a 60 % increase on the equivalent figure for the previous year;

4.  Notes that the Commission referred the first late transposition infringement to the Court of Justice with a request for financial sanctions under Article 260(3) TFEU in late 2011;

5.  Is of the opinion that implementation of the EU Pilot platform needs to be enhanced in terms of transparency vis-à-vis complainants; requests to be given access to the database in which all complaints are collected, in order to enable Parliament to carry out its function of scrutinising the Commission’s role as guardian of the Treaties;

6.  Emphasises the importance of transparency in infringement procedures, not least given the possibility for Parliament to monitor the application of Union law;

7.  Points out that citizens, civil society organisations and companies can submit complaints to the Commission concerning failure to comply with EU law by different levels of Member State authorities; calls on the Commission to safeguard the transparency of ongoing infringement procedures by informing citizens in a timely and appropriate manner of the action taken in response to their request;

8.  Underlines the importance of good administrative practice and calls for the establishment of a ‘procedural code’ in the form of a regulation, with Article 298 TFEU as its legal basis, which sets out the various aspects of the infringement procedure.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

26.11.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

16

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Andrew Henry William Brons, Zdravka Bušić, Carlo Casini, Andrew Duff, Ashley Fox, Gerald Häfner, Stanimir Ilchev, Morten Messerschmidt, Sandra Petrović Jakovina, Paulo Rangel, Rafał Trzaskowski, Manfred Weber, Luis Yáñez-Barnuevo García

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Zuzana Brzobohatá, Isabelle Durant, Helmut Scholz

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Leonardo Domenici


OPINION of the Committee on Petitions (27.11.2013)

for the Committee on Legal Affairs

on 29th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of European Union Law (2011)

(2013/2119(INI))

Rapporteur: Rolandas Paksas

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Petitions calls on the Committee on Legal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Underlines that the right to petition the European Parliament is one of the fundamental pillars of European citizenship, arising from the Article 44 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, providing the tools for increasing public participation in the European Union’s decision-making process and emphasises, in light of this, the Committee on Petitions’ crucial role as the effective juncture between the citizen, Parliament and the Commission;

2.  Resolves to play a full part with other parliamentary Committees in the effective scrutiny of the way in which EU law is applied in Member States given that the credibility of EU law is at stake;

3.  Points out that petitions submitted by European Union citizens refer to violations of EU law, particularly in the fields of fundamental rights, environment, internal market and property rights; considers that petitions give evidence that there are still frequent and widespread instances of incomplete transposition or of misapplication of EU law;

4.  Acknowledges the request by the Committee on Legal Affairs for a legal opinion by the legal service of the European Parliament regarding access to information about pre-infringement cases in the context of the EU Pilot and the annual report on the monitoring of the application of EU law;

5.  Calls on the European Commission to acknowledge the role of petitions in monitoring the application of European Union law and points out that petitions, along with complains to the Commission, are among the first indicators of problems related to bad implementation of EU legislation;

6.  Considers that a more regular and institutionalised exchange between PETI and all its national counterparts would further improve the monitoring of EU law application since many cases involving EU legislation, that are brought to the attention of national petitions committees, might never find their way into a European institution;

7.  Points out that, by discussing petitions, the Committee on Petitions helps to draw attention to the misapplication of EU law; proposes that Member State representatives might be present during these discussions in the committee;

8.  Reiterates its previous requests that the Committee on Petitions be provided with clear information on the stages reached in infringement procedures also covered by open petitions, as contained in Article 44 of the Interinstitutional Agreement between the Commission and the European Parliament;

9.  Highlights the significant number of petitions received on issues related to the economic and social crises and the austerity measures, which risk to undermine the citizens’ social rights and remembers that Europe needs to put the citizens first and work for their well-being;

10. Believes that, as regards the functioning of the infringement procedures under Article 258 and 260 of the TFEU, the Commission should ensure that petitions to the Parliament and complaints to the Commission are treated with equal consideration;

11. Urges the European Commission to conduct faster investigations of infringement procedures relating to environmental pollution situations that endanger human health;

12. Notes the decreasing number of infringement cases (60.4%) closed in 2011 before reaching the Court of Justice, in comparison to 88% of cases closed in 2010; continuing to carefully monitor Member States Actions is therefore essential taking into consideration that some of the petitions refer to problems that persist even after a matter has been closed;

13. Denounces the extreme slowness of the infringement procedure concerning dioxin pollution caused by ILVA plant in Taranto started in 2008 (petition 0760/2007) and looks forward to a swift conclusion in order to protect the health of thousands of area residents;

14. Considers that, in light of the current economic situation, the EU legislation, needs to be even more clear, effectively and efficiently applied, bringing benefits for the citizens’ rights and social cohesion and paying full attention to the principles of subsidiary and proportionality, also at regional level;

15. Stresses that citizens, businesses and other stakeholders expect a simple, predictable and reliable regulatory framework; indicates that excessive as well as too few regulation disrupts competitiveness and retards the growth of economy;

16. Considers that Member States while transposing EU law to the national system should either quantitatively precisely transpose provisions of the directive or explain why it considers that it is necessary to expand transferable provisions more than it is required by the determined minimum requirements of EU law;

17. Stresses that the higher standards of genuine public participation are crucial in ensuring a proper application of EU law, both in letter and spirit; underlines the timely access to full relevant information and the existence of proper legal redress mechanisms as basic pillars of citizens’ participation;

18. Welcomes the case law of the European Court of Justice on the interpretation of Article 51 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which emphasises in respect of the Equal Rights Trust that the institutions of the Member States shall be bound by the overriding fundamental rights of the Union even if they wish to use national measures to restrict the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU);

19. Asks the European Commission to investigate which obstacles exist for EU citizens to acquire reliable ECJ-interpretation of core issues of European law in cases before national courts;

20. Is concerned with assuring the maximum guarantees in the correct implementation of the EU law on the environmental field; considers that the precautionary approach should apply when authorising projects that have an impact that might be in breach of EU environmental legislation, and that injunction mechanisms can be an effective tool for this;

21. Points out that one of the main problems faced by Member States are formal legal requirements in the stages of drafting, legislation, planning or adoption of legislative acts; notes that process of EU law transposition may protract even more if during the term of these stages the composition of the government changes; besides, problems also arise from the lack of coordination or cooperation between departments of administrative institutions, responsible for transposition of directives’ provisions; deplores that the delays in the effective transposition of EU legislation into national legislation become often an important source of bad application of community law;

22. Welcomes the fact that all the Member States are taking part in EU Pilot; hopes that this will lead to a further reduction in infringement proceedings; calls for more to be done to inform citizens about EU Pilot;

23. Requests a detailed assessment of the effectiveness of the complaint mechanisms (EU Pilot, Solvit, etc.); reminds that the Commission is the ultimate responsible body for the compliance with EU legislation in Member States, both in terms of legal transposition and in enforcement;

24. Underlines that an initial experimental stage of EU Pilot is already over, now it is a well-tried working method, allowing for the Commission, Member States involved in the project, and the citizens to achieve necessary results; notes that the lack of complainants’ involvement in the EU Pilot and of public access to the documents within EU Pilot is seen as a main problem of this tool, for these reasons clear rules on the participation of complainants should be adopted through legally binding measures;

25. Urges to improve cooperation and efficiency of the project of EU Pilot, first of all, to comply with agreed tentative terms more strictly and to improve a quality of the Commission’s questions and Member States' answers;

26. Calls on the Commission to take stronger action against the late transposition of directives; encourages the Commission to make more use of penalty payments; stresses the importance of linking new legislation to correct implementation in the Member States, in view of the late transposition of EU law in some of the Member States;

27. Urges the Commission to help competent national institutions to ensure appropriate transposition and application of EU rules determine and eliminate the main risk factors for a timely and appropriate implementation of new (or partly amended) pieces of legislation, as well as to recommend, risk reduction factors to be foreseen in the implementation plans; also, to pay more attention to the development of bilateral communication between national administrations and the Commission as well as to other forms of support to Member States and regional governments;

28. Calls on the Commission to provide public access to information on infringement cases through a user-friendly database, providing comprehensive information on the infringements related to specific EU legislative acts or to a Member State, and particularly to update punctually the Petitions committee on the state of play of infringement procedures related to petitions;

29. In total, 399 infringement cases were closed because the Member State has demonstrated its compliance with EU law. The Court had delivered 62 judgements under Article 258 TFEU in 2011, out of which 53 judgments (85 %) were in favour of the Commission;

30. Points out that the infringement procedure capacity by the Commission remains an important driver for a proper implementation of EU law in Member States. Considers that the Commission should propose a Regulation governing the rules of the pre-infringement and the infringement procedures, based on clear, comprehensive criteria and procedures guaranteeing, among others, an extensive communication with complainants. The development of these rules should go through a consultation process prior to the legislative decision making procedure;

31. Pays attention to a constantly decreasing number of unfinished infringement cases; it is appreciated that Member States put much efforts to eliminate infringements without judicial process.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

25.11.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

14

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Margrete Auken, Victor Boştinaru, Michael Cashman, Giles Chichester, Nikolaos Chountis, Carlos José Iturgaiz Angulo, Peter Jahr, Erminia Mazzoni, Judith A. Merkies, Roberta Metsola, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa, Angelika Werthmann, Tatjana Ždanoka

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Jaroslav Paška, Keith Taylor, Ioannis A. Tsoukalas

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Juozas Imbrasas


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

21.1.2014

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

21

0

1

Members present for the final vote

Raffaele Baldassarre, Sebastian Valentin Bodu, Françoise Castex, Christian Engström, Marielle Gallo, Giuseppe Gargani, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Sajjad Karim, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Antonio Masip Hidalgo, Alajos Mészáros, Bernhard Rapkay, Evelyn Regner, Francesco Enrico Speroni, Rebecca Taylor, Alexandra Thein, Cecilia Wikström, Tadeusz Zwiefka

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Piotr Borys, Eva Lichtenberger, Angelika Niebler, Axel Voss

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

María Irigoyen Pérez

Last updated: 28 January 2014Legal notice