Official Journal of the European Union

CE 184/114

Friday 24 April 2009
25th annual report from the Commission on monitoring the application of Community law (2007)


European Parliament resolution of 24 April 2009 on the 25th annual report from the Commission on monitoring the application of Community law (2007) (2008/2337(INI))

2010/C 184 E/24

The European Parliament,

having regard to the 25th annual report from the Commission on monitoring the application of Community law (2007) (COM(2008)0777),

having regard to the Commission staff working documents (SEC(2008)2854 and SEC(2008)2855),

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 its resolution of 21 February 2008 on the Commission's 23rd annual report on monitoring the application of Community law (2005) (1),

having regard to Rule 45 and Rule 112(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Petitions (A6-0245/2009),


Regrets that, unlike in the past, the Commission has not responded in any way to the issues raised by Parliament in its previous resolutions, in particular the above-mentioned resolution of 21 February 2008; notes the lack of significant improvement with regard to the three fundamental issues of transparency, resources and the length of procedures;


Reminds the Commission of requests made in previous years, namely

to investigate urgently the possibility of a system clearly signposting the various complaints mechanisms available to citizens, which could take the form of a common EU portal or the creation of an on-line one-stop-shop in order to assist citizens;

to adopt a communication setting out its interpretation of the principle of State liability for breach of Community law, including infringements attributable to the judicial branch, thus enabling citizens to contribute more effectively to the application of Community law;


Calls on the Commission, therefore:

to abide by the commitment made in its above-mentioned Communication of 20 March 2002 to publish all its infringement decisions (2), given that the publication of those decisions, starting with the registration of a complaint and followed by all subsequent acts, is a vital tool with which to curb political interference in the management of infringements;

to provide Parliament, as repeatedly requested, with clear, exhaustive data on the resources earmarked for the processing of infringement cases in the various Directorates-General;

to consider introducing a simplified, less bureaucratic procedure for the issuing of formal notice against a Member State which has failed to fulfil its obligations, in order to take swift advantage of the effectiveness of this measure;

calls on the Commission, moreover, to apply Article 228 of the EC Treaty decisively, in order to ensure that judgments delivered by the Court of Justice are properly enforced;


Notes that the Commission, as announced in its above-mentioned Communication of 5 September 2007 (3), has, in the annual report under review, described the priority actions it intends to pursue in certain areas of complaint and infringement management; welcomes the statements according to which priority will continue to be given to ‘problems having a wide-ranging impact on fundamental rights and free movement’ (4); stresses the importance of urgent and determined action in these fields, as acts of violence related to racism and xenophobia have become frequent in certain Member States; equally welcomes the priority given to ‘infringements where citizens are on a significant scale or repeatedly exposed to direct harm or serious detriment to their quality of life’ (5); calls on the Commission to speed up the resolution and, where appropriate, closure of those infringement procedures that prevent Member States from investing in infrastructures that could affect the implementation of the European Economic Recovery Plan; calls on the Commission to provide the parliamentary committees responsible with a detailed plan setting out the time-limits and deadlines for the specific actions it intends to launch in these areas;


Notes that, of the new cases of infringement in 2007, 1 196 concerned a failure to notify national measures relating to the transposition of Community directives; considers it unacceptable that the Commission should grant itself twelve months (6) to deal with simple cases of non-communication of transposition measures by a Member State, and calls on the Commission to take automatic and immediate action in respect of cases of this kind which do not require any analysis or assessment;


Considers that there are still no clear procedures in place to effectively pursue a Member State before the Court of Justice for an infringement of Community law which has since been remedied and to obtain reparation for previous failures and omissions; urges the Commission to come forward with new proposals (by the end of 2010) to complete the current infringement procedure in such a way as to take account of this inequitable situation;


Points out that, according to the new working method proposed by the Commission in its 2007 Communication, requests for information and complaints received by the Commission will be directly forwarded to the Member State concerned ‘where an issue requires clarification of the factual or legal position in the Member State. (…) The Member States would be given a short deadline to provide the necessary clarifications, information and solutions directly to the citizens or business concerned and inform the Commission’ (7);


Notes that the Commission has launched the ‘EU Pilot’ project to test the new working method in several Member States, that 15 Member States are taking part in the project, which began in April 2008, and that, once its first year of operation has been assessed, the project could be extended to the other Member States;


Points out that it is nevertheless a project operating on a voluntary basis, the features of which have already raised some doubts and specific questions (as mentioned in Parliament's above-mentioned resolution of 21 February 2008);


Asks the Commission in particular whether the lack of resources in the Member States is not a worrying sign that there may be genuine problems in monitoring the application of Community law; calls on the Commission, moreover, in its assessment of the project, to check the following issues and report to Parliament on them:

that complainants have received from the Commission clear, exhaustive explanations concerning the processing of their complaint; that the new method has genuinely helped to resolve their cases and that it has not removed all responsibility from the Commission in its role as ‘guardian of the Treaty’;

that the new method has not further delayed the launch of an infringement process the duration of which is already extremely long and indefinite;

that the Commission has not shown any indulgence towards Member States as regards compliance with the deadlines set by the Commission (10 weeks) and that, on expiry of that period, the Commission has provided the Member State concerned with clear-cut information and time-frames regarding its future action in order to find an early definitive solution for the citizen;

that the fact that the ‘EU Pilot’ has been implemented in only 15 volunteer States does not mean that less attention has been paid to dealing with infringements in respect of those countries that have not participated in the project;


Asks whether, thanks to the implementation of the EU Pilot project and the subsequent reduction of the workload in relation to dealing with infringements, the Commission is carrying out more systematic and exhaustive checks on the transposition of directives in the national legislative systems;


Asks the Commission whether the ‘EU Pilot’ project has affected the conduct of the package meetings that it holds for Member States involved in the project and for the other non-participating Member States, bearing in mind that such meetings are considered to be the main means of dealing with and resolving infringement procedures;


Considers that EU citizens should expect the same level of transparency from the Commission, whether they make a formal complaint or whether they exercise their right to petition under the Treaty; consequently, requests that the Committee on Petitions be provided with regular and clear information on the stages reached in infringement procedures also covered by an open petition, or failing this, that the committee be given access to the relevant Commission database on an equal footing with the Council;


Reminds the Commission that any correspondence which may contain a complaint about a genuine breach of Community law must be registered as a complaint unless it is covered by the exceptional circumstances referred to in point 3 of the annex to the above-mentioned communication of 20 March 2002;


Notes that the Commission has declared that a fundamental directive such as Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States (8) has for all practical purposes not been properly transposed in any Member State; notes that the Commission has received more than 1 800 individual complaints in relation to that directive, registering 115 of them as complaints and opening five cases of infringement on the grounds of failure to apply the directive properly (9); recognises that the Commission has worked with Parliament to useful effect and in a spirit of openness where Directive 2004/38/EC is concerned; endorses the Commission's proposed approach, whereby the directive is to be kept under continuous and exhaustive review, support, in the form of guidelines to be published in the first half of 2009, is to be provided to help Member States apply the directive fully and properly, and infringement proceedings are to be instituted against Member States whose legislation does not conform to the directive; expresses grave concern, however, as to the Commission's ability to perform its role as ‘guardian of the Treaty’ and the opportunity afforded to Parliament to check the complaint registration policy implemented by the various Commission departments;


Urges all Commission departments to keep complainants fully informed of the progress made in the processing of their complaints at the end of each predefined period (letter of formal notice, reasoned opinions, proceedings before the Court or closure of a case), to provide, where appropriate, recommendations on handling the case through alternative dispute settlement mechanisms, to state the reasons for their decisions and to communicate those reasons in detail to complainants in accordance with the principles laid down in the above-mentioned 2002 Communication;


Welcomes the gradual phasing-in by the Commission of citizens' summaries, published together with major Commission proposals; recommends making such summaries accessible by using a single access point, and considers it unacceptable that such summaries disappear once the legislative procedure is concluded, which is when they would be most relevant to citizens and businesses;


Recalls the commitment on the part of the Council to encourage the Member States to draw up and publish tables illustrating the correlation between directives and domestic transposition measures; insists that such tables are essential to enable the Commission to carry out an effective scrutiny of implementing measures in all Member States;


Notes with disappointment that during this parliamentary term no significant progress has been made with regard to the vital role that Parliament should play in monitoring the application of Community law; considers that the prioritisation of infringement procedures by the Commission involves political and not merely technical decisions which are currently not subject to any form of external scrutiny, control or transparency; calls for the related reforms proposed by the Working Party on Reform of the European Parliament, which enhance Parliament's own capacity to monitor the application of Community law, to be promptly implemented; supports in this regard the decision of the Conference of Committee Chairs of 25 March 2009;


Calls for greater cooperation between the national parliaments and the European Parliament and their respective Members in order to promote and step up the proper monitoring of European issues at national level, as well as to facilitate the flow of information, especially during the adoption of European legislative acts; considers that members of national parliaments have a valuable role to play in monitoring the application of Community law, thereby helping to strengthen the European Union's democratic legitimacy and bringing it closer to the citizens;


Recalls the Council's pledge to encourage the Member States to draw up and publish tables illustrating the correlation between directives and national transposition measures; stresses that such tables are essential in order to allow the Commission to monitor implementation measures in all Member States effectively; resolves, in its capacity as co-legislator, to take all necessary measures to ensure that during the legislative process the provisions concerning these tables are not deleted from the texts of Commission proposals;


Notes that the national courts play a vital role in applying Community law, and fully supports the Commission's efforts to identify supplementary training courses for national judges, legal professionals, officials and civil servants in the national administrations; underlines that this support is essential in the new Member States, especially as regards access to legal information and legal literature in all the official languages; stresses the need to support improved availability of databases in respect of national court rulings concerning Community law;


Encourages the Commission to further examine EU-wide collective redress mechanisms, with a view to completing the initiatives currently under way in the areas of consumer and competition law; considers that such mechanisms could be used by citizens, including petitioners, to improve the effective application of Community law;


Calls on the Commission to ensure that greater priority is given to the application of Community law relating to the environment, bearing in mind the worrying trends revealed in its report and the many petitions received in this area, and in this context recommends that enforcement checks be strengthened and that the relevant services be adequately resourced; welcomes the Commission's communication of 18 November 2008 on implementing European Community environmental law (COM(2008)0773) as a first step in this direction;


Agrees with the Commission's assessment that more preventive measures should be taken to avoid infringements of Community legislation by Member States; encourages the Commission to accept specific demands made by the Committee on Petitions in order to prevent irreversible damage to the environment; and regrets that the Commission's response is too often that it has to await a final decision by the responsible national authorities before it has any power to act;


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

(1)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0060.

(2)  Point 12: ‘Commission decisions on infringement cases are published within one week of their adoption on the Secretariat-General's Internet site at the following address: http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgb/droit_com/index_en.htm#infractions. Decisions to deliver a reasoned opinion to a Member State or to refer a case to the Court of Justice will also be publicised by means of a press release, unless the Commission decides otherwise.’

(3)  Point 3: ‘The Commission will describe and explain its action on these priorities in its annual reports, from 2008.’

(4)  COM(2008)0777, p. 9.

(5)  Ibid.

(6)  ‘For cases concerning the non-communication of transposition measures transposing directives, the target should be that no more than 12 months elapses from the sending of the letter of formal notice to the resolution of the case or seizure (sic) of the Court of Justice’ (COM(2007)0502).

(7)  COM(2007)0502, p. 8.

(8)  OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77.

(9)  ‘In the thirty months since the Directive has been applicable, the Commission has received more than 1 800 individual complaints, 40 questions from the Parliament and 33 petitions on its application. It has registered 115 complaints and opened five infringement cases for incorrect application of the Directive.’ – Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States (COM(2008)0840), p. 9.