In what should sound as a happy end to a very unpleasant episode of EU history, France has agreed to insert certain provisions of Directive 2004/38/EC into national law texts. That is a welcome development, but I remain quite interested in the facts surrounding the recent mass expulsions of Roma citizens to Bulgaria and Romania. Infringement of EU law does not come only in the form of lack of transposition, but also in the form of direct transgression.
Sergio Carrera and Anaïs Faure Atger from CEPS have provided a thorough and very interesting account of the current cases of expulsion of Roma citizens from France (hat tip: Grahnlaw). They provide a careful and precise assessment of the expulsions from the perspective of EU law that is definitely worth reading.
More importantly, they put forward a proposal a new (preventive) enforcement mechanism that would complement the existing ones (the infringement procedure – art. 258 TFEU, and the fundamental rights proceedings, art. 7 TEU). This procedure would be primarily destined to ensure that contested national policies and practices falling within the remits of EU law and fundamental rights would be immediately ‘frozen’ while the formal opening of infringement or fundamental rights proceedings would be still be considered and/or under study.
This is a very interesting proposal with far-reaching consequences and is worth considering.
The Commission has published its 2009 Report on Monitoring the Application of EU Law. The report outlines the main trends in the implementation and application of EU law during 2009.
At the end of 2009, the Commission was handling around 2900 complaints and infringement files. Around 77 % of complaints were closed before the first formal step in an infringement proceeding; around a further 12 % of the total were closed before the reasoned opinion and around a further 7 % before a ruling from the ECJ. The average time taken to process infringements, from opening the file to sending the application to the ECJ under Article 258 TFEU, fell from around 27 to 24 months.
According to the Commission late transposition and late reporting continue to constitute a widespread, systematic problem, affecting both technical updating of measures important to EU industry, priority EU policies and measures of interest to individual citizens.
The Commission underscores the use of correlation tables and expert groups for improving its cooperation with Member states on the monitoring of the application of EU law.
The Commission plans a review of its general policy on the registration of complaints and relations with complainants in the light of experience of the new methods now being tested. According to the Commission horizontal instruments, such as SOLVIT and EU Pilot, continue to develop and prove their worth, quickly resolving problems faced by citizens and enterprises.
The Commission also intends to step up the use of inspections in areas such as transport safety and security, where they can play a strong role in confirming the interpretation of the law and ensuring its correct application.
Posted in Institutional Affairs, Procedural Law
Tagged application, ECJ, EU law, EU Pilot, infringement, inspections, Member States, procedure, SOLVIT, transposition
UPDATE: The Commission has decided that it will issue a letter of formal notice to France requesting the full transposition of Directive 2004/38/EC, unless draft transposition measures and a detailed transposition schedule are provided by 15 October 2010. The Commission is also analysing the situation of all other EU Member States under Directive 2004/38/EC to assess whether it will be necessary to initiate infringement proceedings also in other cases.
This is an important development if it results in more pressure on Member States to comply with Directive 2004/38/EC.
The European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding has made a very strong statement on the problem with the mass expulsion of Roma from France. She says that the political assurances given by two French ministers on the non-discriminatory character of the expulsions are now openly contradicted by an administrative circular issued by the French government. She further calls this “a disgrace”.
More importantly, Mrs. Reding has taken notice of comments by the French Secretary of State for European Affairs questioning the role of the European Commission as a guardian of the Treaties. She notes that the Commission’s role as guardian of the Treaties is one of the foundations of the European Union – a Union which is held together not by force, but by respect of the rule of law agree upon by all Member States, including France.
She further says that the Commission will have no choice but to initiate infringement action against France.
This analysis confirms my earlier assessment of the issue. It is high time that the European politicians grasp the importance of the legal foundation of the European Union.
There is an interesting argument about the sale by France of a Mistral class warship to Russia. Latvia and Lithuania think that the sale may infringe the Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment.
The common position establishes criteria to assess the export licence applications made for items on the EU Common Military List. The criteria include respect for sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council or the European Union, respect for human rights in the country of final destination, preservation of regional peace, security and stability, and the behavior of the buyer country with regard to the international community.
Some French diplomat has apparently said that Russia “is not the kind of country which is the target of the code”. This is not so apparent to me.
The European Commission has started infringement procedures against 24 Member States for violations of different provisions of the existing community legislation on the internal electricity and gas market. The Commission has focused on provisions which guarantee fair competition in the interest of consumers.
The grounds for the infringement procedure against Bulgaria are similar to other member states: that the Transmission System Operators (TSOs) do not publish sufficient information for the available capacity and that congestion management has to be improved.