OREANDA-NEWS. In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission is pursuing legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law. These decisions, covering various sectors and EU policy areas (see Annex I and II), aim to ensure proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.

The key decisions taken by the Commission (including 9 letters of formal notice, 54 reasoned opinions, and 5 referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union) are presented below and grouped by policy area. The Commission is also closing 122 cases in which the issues with the Member States concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further.

Budget: three Member States referred to Court for loss of customs duties due as EU budget revenue

The European Commission has decided to take Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to pay a total of €23.3 million customs duties into the EU budget. If a Member State does not make its full contribution to the EU budget, the other Member States must compensate for the shortfall. In 2008, Italy notified the Commission that it could not collect and pay to the EU budget €2.1 million customs duties on tobacco products, dating back from 1997. In the case of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, the loss of traditional own resources to the EU budget comes from wrongly issued 'EUR.1' certificates by their overseas countries and territories (‘OCT’). In the case of the United Kingdom, aluminium was imported from third countries to its OTC Anguilla and then re-exported to the EU. The import benefited from exemption of EU custom duties, but this is considered as loss of revenue to the EU budget of €2.7 million. Following a reasoned opinion sent to the UK authorities in October 2014, the Commission is now taking the next step in the infringement procedure. The case of the Netherlands is about two cases of import - of milk powder and rice from Curacao in 1997-2000 and of groats and rice products from Aruba in 2002-2003. In both cases the goods were imported to Europe with 'EUR.1' certificates, issued by the local authorities in the Dutch overseas territories in breach of the OCT Decision, which regulated the association of the OCT within the EU. The amount due to the EU budget is €18.2 million for the import from Cura?ao and €0.3 million for Aruba. The infringement procedure started in 2013 and the reasoned opinion was sent to the Dutch authorities in October 2014.

Digital Single Market: Commission urges 19 Member States to implement cost reduction rules that will help deploy more broadband

The European Commission has asked Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom to implement measures of cost reduction in deploying high-speed electronic communications networks. These rules seek to increase the sharing and re-use of existing physical infrastructure across various sectors (energy, transport, etc.) and should cut by up to 30% the cost of rolling out high-speed internet. In March 2016, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to all Member States which had failed to transpose the measures into national legislation so far, and several of them then notified the Commission that they had fully implemented the Directive. Cost reduction rules support the strategic connectivity objectives that the European Commission has recently proposed: by 2025, all main socio-economic drivers, such as schools, universities, research centres, transport hubs, all providers of public services such as hospitals and administrations, and enterprises relying on digital technologies, should have access to extremely high - gigabit - connectivity (allowing users to download/upload 1 gigabit of data per second); all European households, rural or urban, should have access to connectivity offering a download speed of at least 100 Mbps, which can be upgraded to Gbps, and all urban areas as well as major roads and railways should have uninterrupted 5G coverage, the fifth generation of wireless communication systems. As an interim target, 5G should be commercially available in at least one major city in each EU Member State by 2020. Member States had until 1 January 2016 to transpose the Directive into national legislation. The Commission is sending to the remaining 19 Member States a final warning today. These countries now have two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to bring national legislation into line with EU law; otherwise, the Commission may decide, in accordance with EU infringement rules, to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU and to propose financial sanctions.

Health and safety: Commission urges GERMANY to notify transposition of Packaging and Labelling Directive

The European Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to Germany over the failure to notify the transposition of the Directive on classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures (Directive 2014/27/EU) into its national legislation, more than one year after its deadline. The CLP Directive has replaced several internal market directives on the classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances, aligning them with the CLP Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008). The CLP Regulation is an EU regulation which entered into force on 20 January 2009 and aligns the Union system of classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures to the United Nations Globally Harmonised System (GHS). Member States' laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the CLP Directive had to enter into force by 1 June 2015 and the Commission had to be informed immediately. Given that the German authorities have not yet notified the Commission of the adoption of the necessary measures, the Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to Germany on the basis of the procedure set out in Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). If the German authorities fail to act within two months, the case may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.