Tag Archives: Community law

Insolvency proceedings

Insolvency proceedings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Insolvency proceedings


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in civil matters

Insolvency proceedings

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 of 29 May 2000 on insolvency proceedings.


This regulation establishes a common framework for insolvency proceedings in the European Union (EU). The purpose of harmonised arrangements regarding insolvency proceedings is to avoid assets or judicial proceedings from being transferred from one EU country to another in order to obtain a more favourable legal position to the detriment of creditors (“forum shopping”).

It should be noted that one quarter of cases of insolvency in the EU are associated with late payments.

Avoiding the transfer of assets or judicial proceedings from one EU country to another

Cases of insolvency with cross-border implications affect the proper functioning of the internal market. With a view to developing more uniform procedures that will discourage the parties from transferring assets or judicial proceedings from one EU country to another in order to obtain a more favourable legal position, the proposed solutions rely on the principle of proceedings with universal scope. At the same time, they retain the possibility of opening secondary proceedings within the territory of the EU country concerned.

The regulation applies to “collective insolvency proceedings that entail the partial or total divestment of a debtor and the appointment of a liquidator”. It applies equally to all proceedings, whether the debtor is a natural or a legal person, a trader, or an individual. A “liquidator” is a person or body that administers or liquidates the assets of which the debtor has been divested or supervises the administration of his/her affairs. Annex C of the regulation lists the persons or bodies who are authorised to exercise this function in each EU country.

However, the regulation does not apply to insolvency proceedings concerning:

  • insurance undertakings;
  • credit institutions;
  • investment undertakings that provide services involving the holding of funds or securities for third parties;
  • collective investment undertakings.

Determining the courts with jurisdiction and the applicable law

The regulation defines the concept of “court” as a judicial or other competent body that is authorised in national law to open proceedings. The courts with jurisdiction to open the main proceedings are those of the EU country where the debtor has his/her centre of main interests. This should be the place where the debtor usually administers his/her interests and that is verifiable by third parties. In the case of a company or legal person, this is the place of the registered office, in the absence of proof to the contrary. In the case of a natural person, in principle it is the place where his/her work is domiciled or the place of his/her usual residence.

Secondary proceedings (listed in Annex B) may be opened subsequently in another EU country if the debtor has an establishment in its territory. “Establishment” means any place of operations where the debtor carries out a non-transitory economic activity with human resources and goods. The effects of the winding-up proceedings must be limited to the assets of the debtor located in that territory. The opening of such proceedings may be requested by the liquidator of the main proceedings or by other persons or authorities according to the law of the country in which the opening of the proceedings is requested. In some cases, such territorial proceedings may be opened independently before the main proceedings, if the local creditors and the creditors of the local establishment request it or where main proceedings cannot be opened under the law of the EU country where the debtor has his/her centre of interests. However, these proceedings will become secondary proceedings once the main proceedings are opened.

The law of the EU country in which insolvency proceedings are opened determines all the terms of those proceedings: the conditions for their opening, conduct and closure. It also determines practical rules such as the definition of debtors and assets, the respective powers of the debtor and the liquidator, the effects of proceedings on contracts, individual creditors, claims, etc.

There are provisions throughout the EU guaranteeing the rights in rem of third parties, the right of a creditor to demand a set-off and the right of a seller based on reservation of title, such that these rights are not affected by the opening of the proceedings. Rights to immovable property are governed solely by the law of the EU country where the property is situated. Similarly, employment contracts and relationships, as well as the rights and obligations of parties to a payment or settlement system or to a financial market are governed solely by the law of the EU country that is applicable to them (for further details, see the directive on settlement finality in payment and securities settlement systems).

Recognition of insolvency proceedings

Decisions by the court with jurisdiction for the main proceedings are to be recognised immediately in other EU countries without further scrutiny, except:

  • where the effects of such recognition would be contrary to the country’s public policy;
  • in the case of judgments that might result in a limitation of personal freedom or postal secrecy.

However, restrictions on creditors’ rights (a stay or discharge) are possible only if they have given their consent.

If a court of an EU country decides to open insolvency proceedings, the decision is to be recognised in all other EU countries, even if the debtor could not be the subject of such proceedings in the other countries. The effects of the decision are those provided for by the law of the country in which proceedings are opened and they come to an end in the event of secondary proceedings being opened in another EU country.

The liquidator appointed by a court with jurisdiction may act in the other EU countries in accordance with his powers provided for by the law of the EU country where the proceedings are opened, but respecting the law of the country on whose territory s/he is acting. In particular, s/he may have the debtor’s assets removed and may bring any action to set aside that is in the interests of the creditors if assets were removed from the country of the main proceedings after the opening of the proceedings, subject to rights in rem of third parties or reservation of title.

A creditor domiciled in the EU who obtains total or partial satisfaction of his/her claim on the assets belonging to the debtor must return what s/he has obtained to the liquidator (subject to rights in rem or reservation of title). A consolidated account of dividends for the Union is drawn up to ensure that creditors receive equivalent dividends.

Publication measures may be taken in any other EU country at the request of the liquidator (publication of the decision opening the insolvency proceedings and/or registration in a public register). Publication may be mandatory, but in any event it is not a prior condition for recognition of the foreign proceedings.

If a person concerned is not aware of the opening of proceedings, s/he may be considered to act in good faith when making a payment to the debtor instead of the liquidator in another EU country. If such a payment is made before publication of the decision opening the proceedings, the person concerned is considered to have been unaware of the opening of proceedings. On the other hand, if a payment is made after publication of the decision, the person concerned is assumed to have been aware unless there is proof to the contrary.

Limitation of the applicability of the regulation

The regulation does not apply to:

  • Denmark;
  • any EU country where it is irreconcilable with obligations in respect of winding-up resulting from a convention concluded prior to its entry into force by this country and one or more third countries;
  • the United Kingdom, to the extent that it is irreconcilable with existing arrangements with the Commonwealth.

The regulation applies to insolvency proceedings opened after its entry into force on 31 May 2002. It replaces existing bilateral and multilateral conventions between two or more EU countries.


The winding-up of insolvent companies, compositions and analogous proceedings are excluded from the scope of the 1968 Brussels Convention. Work has been carried out at various levels since 1963 with a view to formulating a Community instrument in the field. A convention on insolvency proceedings was concluded on 23 November 1995. However, this convention could not enter into force because one EU country failed to sign it within the time limit.

The Amsterdam Treaty, signed on 2 October 1997, lays down new provisions for judicial cooperation in civil matters. It was on this basis that this regulation on insolvency proceedings was adopted.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000


OJ L 160 of 30.6.2000

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purposes only.

The impact on Community policies, institutions and legislation

The impact on Community policies, institutions and legislation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The impact on Community policies, institutions and legislation


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Economic and monetary affairs > Practical aspects of introducing the euro

The impact on Community policies, institutions and legislation

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 5 November 1997: The impact of the changeover to the euro on Community policies, institutions and legislation [COM (97) 560 final – Not published in the Official Journal].



At the time the communication was drawn up, the budget was cast in ecus but both revenue (resources) and expenditure are wholly or partly realised on the basis of national currency values.

  • On the revenue side, the contributions are paid by the Member States in national currency;
  • On the expenditure side, the appropriations are generally committed and paid in ecus, with the exception of the payment obligations under the Guarantee Section of the EAGGF and the administrative budget.

Operations carried out in national currency result in the Community budget having to bear the exchange risk, since the exchange value in ecus can fluctuate.

With the introduction of the euro, the participating Member States will have their currency in common with the Community budget. This will have the effect of completely removing the exchange risk for operations still carried out in national currency. However, as far as the “pre-in” countries (Denmark, the United Kingdom and Sweden) are concerned, the exchange risk would persist for this type of operation.


The agri-monetary regime will be affected in different ways by the introduction of the euro:

  • For the participating countries, it will no longer be necessary to convert amounts (the Community will reimburse in euros any expenditure made in euros by the Member State concerned); however, there remains a difference between the rates used in the agri-monetary regime and the fixed and irrevocable conversion rates. This situation will have to be rectified in a manner still to be determined.
  • For the “pre-in” countries, there will still be a need for a conversion rate, but the system could be adjusted.

Adjustments to the agri-monetary regime will also apply to the fisheries sector.


Administrative expenditure represents 3.5% of the total budget (1996 figures), consisting primarily of pensions and salaries, which are paid in national currency (mainly Belgian and Luxembourg francs).

The introduction of the euro will eliminate the exchange risk for the Community budget as regards all salaries and pensions paid to persons resident in participating Member States.

Given the political significance of the remuneration of Community staff, it is proposed that pay slips be expressed in euros and that salaries and pensions be paid in euros in the participating countries as from 1 January 1999.


The most immediate consequence of the transition to the euro for Community legislation is that the ecu will be replaced by the euro (at a rate of 1:1) without any action needing to be taken at either Community or national level.

To cater for cases where the common figure in ecus is accompanied by a clause governing conversion to the respective national currencies, the Commission has drawn up certain guidelines in order to ensure consistency in the interpretation of such clauses.

Certain legal clauses need to be dealt with individually, such as those which refer to specific interest rates (e.g. in the context of penalty clauses) that will no longer be available once the euro has been introduced.

As regards agreements with third countries, references to the ecu will automatically be converted to euros without any specific action having to be taken by any party. It would be advisable to run an information campaign for the benefit of the parties concerned in advance of 1 January 1999.


From the operational point of view, the transition will affect the following:

  • treasury management and financial management: the treasury department of the Commission will no longer have to purchase huge amounts of ecus on the currency markets and the management of accounts and of foreign currency transactions will be greatly simplified;
  • statistics: some of Eurostat’s statistical time series will be rescaled; new statistical aggregates will be produced for the euro area;
  • informatics: the “Euro/Year 2000” working group is dealing with the relevant issues in this field.

The changeover work to be carried out in the Community institutions will largely take place before 1 January 1999, in contrast to the changeover at national, regional and local level, where the adaptation work necessitated by the changeover will be spread over the entire length of the transitional period, and in a few instances will even be concentrated at the end of this period (1 January 2002).

Transposition into national law of directives relating to the internal market

Transposition into national law of directives relating to the internal market

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Transposition into national law of directives relating to the internal market


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Internal market: general framework

Transposition into national law of directives relating to the internal market

Document or Iniciative

Recommendation from the Commission of 12 July 2004 on the transposition into national law of Directives affecting the internal market (Text with EEA relevance) [Official Journal L 98 of 16.04.05].


Due to their lack of rigour in transposing directives relating to the internal market, the Commission recommends that the Member States adopt better practices to ensure correct and timely transposition.

The directives are, by nature, measures that bind the Member States in terms of the results to be achieved. The Member States are, on the other hand, free to choose the form and means of achieving this result. To do so, the Member States have a deadline within which they must transpose the directives.

The correct and timely transposition of directives relating to the internal market is fundamental for the smooth operation of the internal market.

In a Union of twenty-five Member States, late or incorrect transposition of Directives can cause fragmentation of the internal market and make the European economy less competitive with respect to the prospects for growth and social cohesion.

Citizens and businesses should also be informed of the situation regarding the transposition of directives and the rights they have as a result.

It is entirely up to Member States to transpose Directives, in accordance with Article 10 of the EC Treaty. There are, however, procedures to encourage Member States to transpose Directives correctly and on time, and they are also monitored and penalised for incorrect or late transposition by means of:

  • infringement proceedings as provided for in Article 226 of the EC Treaty under which the Commission may take legal action before the Court of Justice against Member States for late or incorrect transposition;
  • the regular publication of the transposition records of Member States in the Internal Market Scoreboard.

Despite the effectiveness of these procedures, the Member States are not always rigorous in carrying out their obligations to transpose directives. The Commission therefore proposes a more proactive approach to remedy this. Since its 2002 Communication on better monitoring of the application of European Community law [COM(2002) 725 final], the Commission has provided assistance to Member States.

The Commission recommends in particular that Member States adopt good practices based on the examples set by certain Member States. It had already announced its intention to issue a recommendation setting out a number of good practices to ensure better and faster transposition in its communication on the Internal Market Strategy – Priorities 2003-2006. The Member States should thus focus on their procedures and national practices to ensure that they consistently meet this legal obligation, particularly by:

  • dealing with the underlying causes of incorrect or late transposition;
  • choosing the best designed and most effective procedures and practices with respect to the specific context of each Member State,
  • drawing up tables showing the correlation between directives and transposition measures;
  • refraining from adding to national implementing legislation conditions or requirements that are not necessary and which may hinder attainment of the objectives pursued by the directive.

The Annex to the Recommendation provides details on the good practices which could be followed, i.e.:

  • making correct and timely transposition a permanent political and operational priority;
  • ensuring permanent monitoring and coordination of the transposition of internal market directives at administrative and political level;
  • ensuring that preparations for transposition take place at an early stage and that they have as their aim correct and timely transposition;
  • working closely with national, regional and devolved Parliaments involved in transposition of internal market directives to ensure correct and timely transposition;
  • taking action quickly, visibly and effectively to transpose Directives whose transposition is late.

In addition, as part of the transposition procedure, when Member States submit draft implementing provisions to their national Parliaments, and when these are notified to the Commission, they should be accompanied by:

  • a declaration concerning their compliance with Community law;
  • information as to which parts of the directive have been effectively transposed.

If the transposition of a Directive is part of a wider legislative exercise, the Member States should ensure that this procedure does not delay the application of the directive.

Finally, information on transposition should appear in a publication targeted at citizens and businesses. A website set up by each Government at national level could be the ideal medium. This information should specify:

  • the transposition deadline to show whether the directive is transposed on time or whether it is late;
  • the contents of this transposition, specifying whether the directive is transposed fully or partly;
  • the legal rights of citizens of businesses depending on how the directive was transposed.


Single market: improving its functioning

Single market: improving its functioning

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Single market: improving its functioning


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Internal market: general framework

Single market: improving its functioning

Document or Iniciative

Commission Recommendation 2009/524/EC of 29 June 2009 on measures to improve the functioning of the single market (Text with EEA relevance).


This Recommendation aims to improve the functioning of the single market. It presents a set of measures intended to guarantee the application of the Community rules and to promote best practices which already exist in certain Member States.

Improving coordination and cooperation

This Recommendation invites Member States to designate a new authority or to use the existing structures in their national administration to ensure that a body assumes responsibility for coordination with regard to the single market. Government ministries and public bodies must also cooperate with each other.

The European Commission also considers it pertinent to bring together responsibilities for a number of single market related activities within a single authority.

Cooperation between national authorities is strongly encouraged, on the one hand in order to make the existing networks such as the IMI, RAPEX or RASFF more operational and, on the other hand, to ensure that the responses to Commission requests concerning the application of single market rules at national level are more effective. From this perspective, this Recommendation encourages Member States to follow the example of cooperation between Nordic and Baltic countries in the context of market surveillance.

Improving the transposition of single market rules

Member States are invited to prepare actively for the transposition, application and enforcement of single market directives at national level.

It is crucial that relevant information is communicated between national administrations and national, regional and devolved parliaments in order to raise awareness of negotiations and the process for the transposition of Community rules. To this end, some Member States draw up national impact assessments when a directive is tabled by the Commission.

Improving market monitoring and the application of rules

The Commission recommends that Member States take measures aimed at monitoring the market, by using analysis carried out by academics, consultants, National Statistical offices or complaint handling bodies.

Local stakeholders are also strongly encouraged to participate in the market monitoring process.

In addition, officials responsible for applying single market rules should be able to receive continued training on Community law in general and single market rules in particular.

Promoting problem-solving mechanisms

This Recommendation encourages Member States to develop non-judicial problem-solving mechanisms and to participate in existing Community systems such as SOLVIT.

As far as the national judiciary is concerned, Member States must provide to judges basic training in Community law and single market rules to enable them to take better account of the requirements of Community law in their judgments.

Assessing national legislation

It is important that Member States should ensure the monitoring and assessment of national legislation implementing single market rules in order to rectify any deficiency or error in the application of Community rules without delay.

The Commission proposes that Member States should develop ex-post impact assessment reports or audits to monitor the implementation of single market directives.

Informing citizens and businesses about their rights

Citizens and businesses can obtain information about their rights from the Community information services within national administrations. It is therefore vital to ensure increased coordination between the national contact points responsible for these Community information services.

The Your Europe portal should be more visible and provide clearer information online.

Information campaigns and programmes should be launched to report the benefits and opportunities offered by the single market.


The Communication “A single market for 21st century Europe” emphasised a number of shortcomings of the single market due to poor application of and non-compliance with Community rules. The Commission has therefore reviewed the single market with the aim of proposing specific measures for citizens and businesses to ensure that they benefit from the economic advantages created by this market.

Placing taxation at the service of research and development

Placing taxation at the service of research and development

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Placing taxation at the service of research and development


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > European Strategy for Growth > Growth and jobs

Placing taxation at the service of research and development

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 22 November 2006 to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee: “Towards a more effective use of tax incentives in favour of R&D” [COM(2006) 728 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


In line with its commitment to promote a more consistent and favourable tax environment for R&D, while recognising national prerogatives, the European Commission, through this new Communication, intends:

  • to clarify the rules on the compatibility of tax incentives with Community law;
  • to identify good practices in designing tax incentives for research;
  • to present a number of possible future initiatives aimed at improving consistency in Europe with regard to questions of common interest to do with the taxation of R&D.

Community law and R&D tax incentives

This section focuses on the legal parameters for all R&D tax incentives and provides guidance on the design features of such incentives to avoid incompatibility with Community law.

Territorial restrictions * are the main reason why such incentives are incompatible with Community law. They can be explicit * or implicit * restrictions. In practice, any territorial restriction, whether explicit or implicit, has, in the Commission’s view, to be regarded as infringing upon the fundamental freedoms (freedom of establishment, freedom to supply services) laid down in the EC Treaty.

However, certain restrictions may, under certain conditions, be justified:

  • either by virtue of exemptions expressly provided for by the Treaty (see Articles 46 and 55);
  • or on grounds recognised as “overriding requirements in the general interest”.

The Commission identifies a number of arguments already invoked by the Member States in defence of their territorial restrictions before the Court of Justice of the European Communities (ECJ):

  • fiscal supervision;
  • loss of tax revenue;
  • prevention of tax avoidance;
  • promotion of national R&D and competitiveness.

To sum up existing case law, there is ample evidence that territorial restrictions on the application of R&D task incentives are unlikely to be accepted by the ECJ. Thus, when designing R&D tax incentives, Member States should take into account the fact that any explicit, and in some cases implicit, form of territorial restriction would not be considered to be in accordance with the EC Treaty. This does not, however, preclude territorial restrictions which simply reflect the territoriality of the tax competence of Member States. For example, a wage tax or social security incentive for R&D personnel might, by its nature, be limited, de facto, to persons performing R&D activities in the Member State in which they are taxed or pay social security contributions.

Another aspect to be taken into consideration is the compatibility of tax incentives with Community state aid rules. According to Article 87 (formerly Article 92) of the EC Treaty, “any aid granted by a Member State or through state resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, in so far as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the common market”.

Tax incentives may constitute state aid if they:

  • meet the criteria laid down in Article 87;
  • are covered by the relevant case law of the ECJ;
  • do not fall under the de minimis Regulation.

One of the main criteria for determining whether or not a tax incentive * constitutes state aid is its selectivity.

Since exemptions are possible, the Commission will assess state aid for research, development and innovation (RDI) that is brought to its attention, and in particular R&D tax incentives, in the light of the Community framework for state aid for research, development and innovation. It also calls on Member States to take into account this framework when designing R&D tax incentives.

Good design features for R&D tax treatment and incentives

In recent years, a growing number of Member States have introduced some form or other of R&D tax incentive. Currently, 15 Member States have acted. Experience has shown that there is no single answer as to how R&D tax incentives should be designed and implemented as circumstances differ from one country to another (general tax policy, industrial structure, level and nature of private-sector R&D performance, etc.),

Nevertheless, despite these differences, a number of guiding principles can be defined.

The tax incentives must:

  • reach more firms;
  • include all current expenses;
  • consider certain types of R&D-related capital expenditure.

It is essential:

  • to focus on ascertaining the direct additionality of tax incentives and their behavioural additionality;
  • to consider evaluation criteria and data from the design stage;
  • to test, a posteriori, the impact of incentives, the efficiency of the delivery mechanism and their wider societal effects.

The detailed guidance annexed to the Communication has been drawn up on the basis of the work of an expert group under the aegis of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the European Council and the Commission (CREST). The Commission will continue to promote the sharing of experience and good practices by setting up a network of national experts in 2007.

Guidelines for tackling problems of common interest

In addition to the need for Member States to take into account the fundamental principles set out above, the Commission sheds light on a number of desirable initiatives for reconciling tax policy and the knowledge economy at EU level.

The Commission calls on Member States to discuss the introduction of a consistent tax framework that:

  • is conducive to supporting large-scale transnational R&D projects;
  • is favourable to young innovative enterprises;
  • promotes philanthropic funding of research;
  • facilitates cross-border mobility of researchers;
  • facilitates cross-border outsourcing of R&D within the EU;
  • simplifies VAT rules and their application to R&D as regards public entities;
  • lays down a common tax definition of R&D;
  • provides for R&D tax treatment in the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCTB).


Against the background of the relaunch of the Lisbon Strategy, at the beginning of 2005, the European Union (EU) set a target of 3% of GDP for R&D spending by 2010, of which two thirds should come from the private sector. The trend to provide more favourable tax treatment for R&D is becoming more common in the Member States. However, the growing diversity of R&D tax incentives risks further fragmenting the fiscal landscape but could be prejudicial to transnational cooperation within the EU.

Key terms used in the act
  • Territorial restrictions: measures or factors that, explicitly or implicitly, favour domestically performed R&D over that performed elsewhere in the EU.
  • Explicit territorial restriction: this may be, for example, a legal provision which restricts the benefit of an R&D tax incentive to activities performed domestically.
  • Implicit territorial restriction: this includes, for example, a tax incentive covering the costs of subcontracted R&D but limiting the proportion of R&D that can be subcontracted to non-resident entities.
  • Selectivity of the tax incentive: a tax incentive is considered selective if its potential beneficiaries are restricted notably in terms of size (e.g. SMEs), location or sector and, as such, is likely to constitute state aid.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 13 September 2006 – Putting knowledge into practice: A broad-based innovation strategy for the EU [COM(2006) 502 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 25 October 2005 – The contribution of taxation and customs policies to the Lisbon Strategy [COM(2005) 532 final – Non published in the Official Journal]


from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 12 October 2005 – More research and innovation – Investing for growth and employment [COM(2005) 488 final – Official Journal C 49, 28.02.2006]


from the Commission: – Investing in research: an action plan for Europe [COM(2003) 226 final – Non published in the Official Journal].

Implementation of Community environmental law in 2004

Implementation of Community environmental law in 2004

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Implementation of Community environmental law in 2004


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Implementation of Community environmental law in 2004

This study reviews the implementation of Community environmental law in 2004.

Document or Iniciative

Commission staff working paper of 17 August 2005: Sixth annual survey on the implementation and enforcement of Community environmental law – 2004 [SEC(2005) 1055 – not published in the Official Journal].


1. The implementation of Community environmental legislation continues to improve. This is shown by the lower numbers of complaints received and infringement proceedings regarding the environment initiated by the Commission in 2004.

2. In 2004 the Commission received 336 new complaints and launched 583 new infringement proceedings, which is significantly fewer than the figures for 2003 which were 505 and 693 respectively. Despite this decrease the environment remains the sector with the most ongoing infringement proceedings.

3. In total, the study revealed 173 cases in which the Directives on the environment had not been transposed on time (non-communication), 103 cases in which Directives had been transposed incorrectly (non-conformity) and 294 cases in which Member States had failed to comply with obligations under the Directives (incorrect application), for example through failing to comply with the deadlines for presenting certain plans, submitting data or designating protected areas.

4. As in the previous year, the areas in which most infringement proceedings were launched are nature, waste, water and impact assessments. The breakdown is as follows:

  • cases of non-communication of information occur most frequently in the air and waste sectors;
  • cases of non-conformity with Community legislation mainly concern impact assessments, waste, water and nature;
  • cases of incorrect horizontal application arise particularly in the water, waste and nature sectors.

5. Following the accession of the ten new Member States in 2004, the Commission sent letters of formal notice to eight of them in December 2004, Latvia and Lithuania having already communicated all their measures for implementing the aquis in the area of the environment.

6. In addition to actions for non-conformity, non-communication or incorrect application, the Commission has used other approaches in dealing with the Member States in order to ensure that Community environmental legislation is correctly implemented. These are mainly proactive initiatives such as guidelines and interpretative texts, measures to monitor conformity with legislation such as annual reports and collecting key data, as well as research into the most appropriate (strategic, efficient and coordinated) solutions to achieve the environmental targets laid down in legislation.

Freedom of access to information

7. The Commission has sent a Reasoned Opinion to France for incomplete execution of a Court of Justice ruling against it for failure to comply with Directive 90/313/EEC on access to information. It also continued infringement proceedings against some Member States for incorrect application of the Directive.

Environmental impact assessment

8. The Court of Justice rules against the United Kingdom for incomplete transposition of Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment. Furthermore, problems of non-conformity of national measures with this Directive and incorrect application of the Directive have persisted. The Commission has therefore issued Reasoned Opinions and decided to refer Italy and Spain to the Court of Justice. In addition, the Court of Justice has rules against national authorities for applying the Directive incorrectly. It should be noted that Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment had to be transposed by 21 June 2004.


9. The Commission has closed a certain number of infringement proceedings concerning Regulation (EC) No 2037/2000 and Directive 2002/3/EC on ozone. The Commission has also opened infringement proceedings for failure to transpose the Directive establishing an emissions trading scheme for greenhouse gases, which should be transposed by 31 December 2003. Infringement proceedings have also been opened for other Directives concerning specific atmospheric pollutants.


10. The Commission has opened several infringement proceedings for non-communication of transposition measures for the Water Framework Directive, which had to be implemented by December 2003. However, although a number of proceedings are ongoing against Member States due to bad application of Directive 76/160/EEC concerning the quality of bathing water, many Member States are now very close to full compliance with the quality standards and monitoring requirements laid down in the Directive. Furthermore, all Member States have now transposed Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption which repealed Directive 80/778/EC under which some proceedings are still underway. Several proceedings have been opened or have resulted in rulings being given against Member States for bad application of Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste-water treatment and of Directive 91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources.


11. In August 2004 the Commission published a guidance document on hunting, the purpose of which was to clarify the requirements of Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds. Some conformity and transposition problems remain unresolved regarding the Wild Birds Directive and Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna. However, most of the problems with the implementation of these two Directives relate to their bad application, particularly in terms of designating special protection areas and sites of Community importance as well as a special protection scheme and protected species. Furthermore, rulings have been given against Austria and Italy for failure to transpose measures under the Directive on the keeping of wild animals in zoos.

Chemicals and biotechnology

12. A number of proceedings have been closed, including that against France for non-communication of transposition measures for Directive 2001/59/EC and Directive 98/8/EC as well as for non-conformity of national legislation with Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. The Commission has also closed proceedings brought against Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain concerning Directive 98/81/EC on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms. The Court of Justice has also ruled against 6 countries for non-communication of transposition measures relating to Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms.


13. Infringement proceedings have been opened for the bad application of Council Directive 75/442/EEC on waste, and the Court of Justice has ruled against several countries for this reason, particularly in relation to individual landfills and waste planning and management. The Court also gave preliminary rulings on some questions concerning the interpretation of the Framework Directive, in particular regarding the definition of waste and what the plans to be drawn up by the Member States should contain. In addition, there are still problems of non-conformity and/or of bad application for some Community texts such as the Directive on the disposal of waste oil, the Directive on hazardous waste, the Regulation on shipments of waste, the Directive on packaging waste, the Directive on the disposal of PCBs/PCTs and the Landfill Directive. Furthermore, problems of non-conformity have resulted in several Member States being condemned in respect of the Directives on end-of-life vehicles and on the incineration of waste.

Environment and industry

14. The Commission has continued infringement proceedings for non-conformity with Directive 96/61/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC). In addition, Directive 96/82/EC has still not been fully or correctly transposed by some Member States.

Network for the implementation of environmental law (IMPEL)

15. The IMPEL network is an informal network in which the environmental authorities in the Member States and the Commission participate. Its main objective is to encourage the effective implementation of Community environmental law. In 2004 the final report on the first IMPEL project on the transfrontier shipment of waste aroused a lot of interest among the official authorities and the media: the project, which aimed to standardise inspections in the six seaports participating, resulted in the creation of a contact network for enforcement activities, the detection of many illegal shipments and highlighted the need for an improved strategy on the transfrontier shipment of waste. In addition, IMPEL continues to work with other networks and has published several reports over the year.

Mutual information mechanism for national asylum and immigration measures

Mutual information mechanism for national asylum and immigration measures

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Mutual information mechanism for national asylum and immigration measures


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Mutual information mechanism for national asylum and immigration measures

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2006/688/EC of 5 October 2006 on the establishment of a mutual information mechanism concerning Member States’ measures in the areas of asylum and immigration.


The mutual information mechanism (MIM) provides for exchanges of information between the Commission and European Union (EU) countries concerning national laws on asylum and immigration.

EU countries are required to transmit through a web-based network, and using the report form annexed to the decision, the measures they intend to take or have recently taken. Such information should be transmitted as soon as possible and at the latest when it becomes publicly available.

EU countries are required to communicate to the Commission and the other EU countries only measures that are likely to have a significant impact:

  • in other EU countries;
  • at the level of the EU as a whole.

The Commission is responsible for the development and management of the network. In setting up the network, it will make use of the existing technical platform of the trans-European telematic network for the exchange of information between EU country authorities (CIRCA). The network has a specific functionality that allows the Commission and EU countries to request from one or more countries additional information on measures communicated.

Any specific national measure notified in this way may give rise to an exchange of views between EU country experts and the Commission. In addition to these technical discussions, the Commission will prepare each year a report summarising the most relevant information transmitted by EU countries. The report will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for use as the basis of ministerial discussions on national asylum and immigration policies.

The Commission will evaluate the functioning of the mechanism two years after the entry into force of the decision and regularly thereafter.


National measures in the areas of immigration and asylum are likely to have an impact on other EU countries. This is due to the absence of border checks in the Schengen area, the close economic and social relations between EU countries and the development of common visa, immigration and asylum policies.

The EU has been striving to draw up a common asylum and immigration policy since the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999. Although a large number of common measures have already been taken in these areas at the EU level, the national authorities continue to play an important role, notably in the areas not yet covered by EU rules. They are constantly adopting new measures (e.g. important changes to asylum and immigration policies, setting quotas, large-scale regularisation measures or concluding readmission agreements) that may have implications for other EU countries or for the EU as a whole.

Therefore, this decision proposes the establishment of a formal information procedure between EU countries and the Commission, with the aim of improving the coordination of immigration and asylum policies between EU countries.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2006/688/EC


OJ L 283 of 14.10.2006

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 17 December 2009 pursuant to Article 4 and 5 of the Council Decision of 5 October 2006 on the establishment of a mutual information mechanism concerning Member States’ measures in the areas of asylum and immigration [COM(2009) 687 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report contains a summary of the most relevant information transmitted by EU countries and an evaluation on the functioning of the MIM during its first operational period.
From the beginning of the MIM becoming operational in April 2007 until 30 September 2009, only 16 EU countries had transmitted information via the MIM on only 45 measures:

  • 21 on adopted legislation;
  • 4 on draft legislation;
  • 9 on policy intentions and long-term programming;
  • 7 on administrative decisions affecting a large group of non-EU country nationals or having a general nature;
  • 4 on other measures.

No communications were made on final decisions of the highest courts or tribunals.
The format in which the communications were made was rarely homogenous. The reporting form annexed to the decision was not always used, which resulted in the ineffective reception of information in that the essence of the measures or their impact remained unidentifiable. In addition to this, at times only the English title and the text in the original language were provided, resulting in problems of comprehension. There were also differences in the contents of the reporting forms submitted: some were fairly comprehensive, while others only provided a cursory description without indication of the nature of the measure.
The MIM cannot be deemed as fulfilling its objectives since the quantity of information submitted was nominal. The rate of information exchanges varied somewhat, reaching an all-time low in 2009 with only 4 communications.
Yet, there is no evidence that the unsatisfactory application of the decision is caused by its provisions. In addition, since the MIM has only been operational for a short period, the Commission does not yet consider it relevant to propose amendments to the decision.

Protection against trade barriers

Protection against trade barriers

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection against trade barriers


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External trade

Protection against trade barriers

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 3286/94 of 22 December 1994 laying down Community procedures in the field of the common commercial policy in order to ensure the exercise of the Community’s rights under international trade rules, in particular those established under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation [See amending acts].


This regulation replaces the 1984 regulation on illicit practices. It covers trade barriers that may impede European Union (EU) exports to third country markets.

The scope of the trade barriers regulation is broader than that relating to illicit practices. The regulation applies not only to goods but also to certain services, particularly cross-border services.


The term “obstacle to trade” (i.e. trade barrier) refers to any trade practice adopted by a third country but prohibited by international trade rules which give a party affected by the practice a right to seek elimination of the effect of the practice in question. These international trade rules are essentially those of the WTO and those set out in bilateral agreements with third countries to which the EU is a party.

The regulation defines “injury” as any material injury which an obstacle to trade threatens to cause to an EU industry on the market of the EU.

“Adverse trade effects” are those which an obstacle to trade threatens to cause to EU enterprises on the market of any third country, and which have a material impact on the economy of the EU or of a region of the EU, or on a sector of economic activity therein.

The term “EU industry” means all EU producers or providers of products or services which are the subject of an obstacle to trade or all those producers or providers whose combined output constitutes a major proportion of total EU production of the products or services in question.

The term “EU enterprise” means a company formed in accordance with the law of an EU country and having its registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the EU, directly concerned by the production of goods or the provision of services which are the subject of the obstacle to trade.

Right of referral

Complaints under this regulation may be lodged in three ways:

  • on behalf of an EU industry that has suffered material injury as a result of trade barriers that have an effect on the market of the EU;
  • on behalf of one or more EU enterprises that have suffered adverse trade effects as a result of trade barriers that have an effect on the market of a third country;
  • by an EU country denouncing an obstacle to trade.

The complaint must contain sufficient evidence of the existence of the trade barriersand of the injury or adverse trade effects resulting therefrom. In examining injury or adverse trade effects, the Commission will take account of certain factors such as the volume of EU imports or exports concerned, the prices of the EU industry’s competitors, the rate of increase of exports to the market where the competition with EU products is taking place, the export capacity in the country of origin or export, and so on.

Examination procedures

Complaints must be submitted to the Commission in writing. The Commission will decide on the admissibility of a complaint within 45 days. This period may be suspended at the request of the complainant in order to allow the provision of complementary information.

The regulation has provided for a consultation procedure by establishing an advisory committee composed of representatives of each EU country and chaired by a representative of the Commission. This committee is used as the forum for providing the EU countries with information and is where they can express their opinions either in writing or by requesting an oral consultation.

If a complaint is deemed admissible, an examination is initiated and announced through publication of an announcement in the Official Journal of the European Communities. This announcement will indicate the product or service and countries concerned. The Commission will then gather all the relevant information from the parties involved.

When it is found as a result of the examination procedure that the interests of the EU do not require any action to be taken, the procedure will be terminated. When, after an examination procedure, the third country or countries concerned take measures to eliminate the adverse trade effects or injury referred to by the complainant, the procedure may be suspended. It may also be suspended in order to try to find an amicable solution that may result in the conclusion of an agreement between the third country or countries concerned and the EU.

Adoption of commercial policy measures

Where it is found, as a result of the examination procedure, that action is necessary in the interests of the EU in order to ensure the exercise of the EU’s rights, the appropriate measures will be determined on the basis of the regulation. These measures may include:

  • suspension or withdrawal of any concession resulting from commercial policy negotiations;
  • the raising of existing customs duties or the introduction of any other charge on imports;
  • the introduction of quantitative restrictions or any other measures modifying import or export conditions or otherwise affecting trade with the third country concerned.

Where the EU’s international obligations require it to follow prior international consultation or dispute settlement procedures, these measures may only be implemented at the end of these procedures and in accordance with their conclusions.

The Council must rule on the Commission proposal within 30 days of receiving the proposal.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 3286/94


OJ L 349 of 31.12.1994

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 356/95


OJ L 41 of 23.2.1995

Regulation (EC) No 125/2008


OJ L 40 of 14.2.2008

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 3286/94 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference only.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission – Global Europe – Europe’s trade defence instruments in a changing global economy – A Green Paper for public consultation [COM(2006) 763 final].
This Green Paper forms part of the process launched in October 2006 to reflect upon and give a fresh impetus to competitiveness in the EU as part of the global economy. In this context, the Commission has launched a procedure to reflect on how trade defence instruments (anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard measures) can continue to be used to best effect in the EU interest. The latter are in fact based on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and help protect the EU from unfair trade as well as manage the consequences of globalisation. Another factor is that the context in which trade defence instruments are adopted has changed.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Global Europe – Competing in the world – A contribution to the EU’s Growth and Jobs Strategy [COM(2006) 567 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Strategic oil stocks

Strategic oil stocks

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategic oil stocks


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Security of supply external dimension and enlargement

Strategic oil stocks

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 2006/67/EC of 24 July 2006 imposing an obligation on Member States to maintain minimum stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products.


In an unstable geopolitical environment where the balance between supply and demand is generally uneasy, particularly due to growing demand from new mass consumers such as China, the European Union’s dependency on imports of petroleum products is an increasing cause for concern for European economic prospects.

A supply crisis caused by our supply of petroleum products from third countries being unexpectedly interrupted would most likely have a serious impact on European economic activity. Breaks in supply could also occur within the EU.

It is in order to ensure the security of its oil supply that the EU obliges Member States to guarantee minimum stocks of petroleum products that can be used in the event of a supply crisis to replace all or part of the shortfall.

Strategic stock-holding requirement

Member States are required to build up and constantly maintain minimum stocks of petroleum products equal to at least 90 days of the average daily internal consumption during the previous calendar year.

The calculation of the daily internal consumption is based on motor spirit and aviation fuel, gas oil, diesel oil, kerosene and jet-fuel of the kerosene type, as well as fuel oils.

Amongst the petroleum resources accepted in the statistical summary of strategic stocks are supplies held in ports of discharge, or those on board oil tankers in port for the purpose of discharging, once the port formalities have been completed, supplies held in tanks at the entry to oil pipelines and also those held in refinery tanks. On the other hand, certain resources may not be included in the statistical summary, such as crude oil not yet extracted, supplies intended for the bunkers of sea-going vessels, supplies in pipelines, in road tankers or rail tank-wagons, in the storage tanks of retail outlets and those held by small consumers, as well as quantities held by or for the armed forces.

Member States who have their own petroleum production may deduct this proportionally from their stock-holding obligation. Such deduction may not, however, exceed 25 % of the Member State’s internal consumption.

Member States may include in their statistical summary of strategic stocks only quantities that are at their full disposal in the event of an oil supply crisis.

Stock-holding arrangements

Stock-holding arrangements must ensure that the stocks are available to and accessible by Member States so they can react immediately in the event of a supply crisis. In fact, Member States must be able to control allocation of the stocks and quickly make them available to the sectors where the need for supply is the most urgent.

Stock-holding may rely on a system of partial or total delegation to a stock-holding body or agency. Member States ensure transparency of the stock-holding arrangements and make sure that fair, non-discriminatory conditions are applied.

The stocks may be held outside national territory in another Member State. The Member State on whose territory the stocks are held has control of them and guarantees their actual availability. It does not include them in its statistical summary.

Member States have an obligation to ensure administrative monitoring of their stocks, in other words to ensure their control and supervision. Breaches of these control mechanisms are covered by a system of penalties.

Member States send the Commission a statistical summary of the stocks existing at the end of each month, stating the number of days of average consumption of the previous calendar year that they represent.


In the event of a supply crisis, a coordinated operation is put in place and the Commission organises a consultation between the Member States, either on its own initiative or at the request of one of them.

Member States do not, in principle, make withdrawals from the stocks that would bring them below the compulsory minimum level before such a consultation, except in a particularly urgent situation.

Member States must therefore send the Commission information relating to any withdrawal from the stocks (date on which the stocks fell below the compulsory minimum, reason for withdrawal, steps taken to build the stocks back up, likely stock levels during the period in which they will remain below the compulsory minimum).


Since the end of the 1960s, the European Union has been aware of the need to prevent potential oil supply shortages. Council Directive 68/414/EEC therefore laid down the obligation on Member States to build up and maintain strategic oil stocks. Subsequently, Council Directive 72/425/EEC raised the obligation for stocks initially set at the equivalent of at least 65 days of the daily internal consumption to an obligation for stocks equivalent to at least 90 days. Council Directive 98/93/EC developed and strengthened the provisions of Directive 68/414/EEC. In the interests of clarity and effectiveness, these Directives were consolidated in, and thus repealed by, Council Directive 2006/67/EC.

When anticipating or reacting to a supply crisis, replacement of the shortfall by putting onto the market stocks built up by the Member States can be effective only in tandem with certain complementary measures (to promote energy efficiency and thus reduce consumption of hydrocarbons, to improve dialogue with producer countries, carry out more in-depth market analysis for better forecasting, to diverse energy sources, in particular by promoting renewable forms of energy, etc.).

This Directive will be repealed by Directive 2009/119/EC from 31 December 2012.


Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2006/67/EC


OJ L 217, 8.8.2006

Related Acts

Council Decision 77/706/EEC of 7 November 1977 on the setting of a Community target for a reduction in the consumption of primary sources of energy in the event of difficulties in the supply of crude oil and petroleum products [Official Journal L 292, 16.11.1977].

Amended by Decision79/639/EEC [Official Journal L 183 of 19.7.1979].
Member States may be bound to reduce their oil consumption. The Decision therefore provides that the Commission can set a target for reducing the consumption of petroleum products by up to 10 % of normal consumption.

Fewer administrative formalities for more growth

Fewer administrative formalities for more growth

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fewer administrative formalities for more growth


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > European Strategy for Growth > Growth and jobs

Fewer administrative formalities for more growth

The Commission proposes associating the improvement and simplification of regulations with the achievement of the Lisbon objectives. The Commission draws a link between better regulation and stronger growth, which in turn leads to the provision of more and better jobs. Cutting down on administrative formalities will allow businesses to stimulate growth and create more jobs in the European Union. In order to achieve this objective, the Commission presents tools for better regulation and wishes to strengthen dialogue between the regulatory services of the EU and those of the Member States.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 16 March 2005, entitled “Better Regulation for Growth and Jobs in the European Union” [COM(2005) 97 – Not published in the Official Journal].


The aim of this Communication is to stimulate growth and employment by promoting the improvement and simplification of regulations in areas affecting European competitiveness. The Commission considers that this process of regulatory simplification helps to make Europe a more attractive place for investors and workers.

The complexity of Community legislation is counterproductive for the public authorities, businesses, citizens and social partners. The legislative and administrative burdens are particularly onerous for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for two thirds of employment in the European Union (EU).

Simplification of existing legislation

Action must be taken at all levels. Cooperation with the Parliament and the Council is therefore essential, as is the Member States’ commitment to guaranteeing that the principles of better regulation are respected.

The strategy for regulatory simplification is one of the cornerstones of the Better Regulation initiative. This simplification goes further than simply rewriting the existing legislative texts, requiring efforts to create more effective, more flexible and more proportionate rules for those who must respect and apply them.

With a view to increasing the impact on growth and competitiveness of the legislative simplification initiative, the Commission proposes taking the following measures:

  • identifying the legislation in need of simplification in cases where legislative complexity proves to be disproportionate. The Commission proposes using websites on better regulation to let businesses, NGOs and citizens air their views and give specific examples of the administrative costs arising from the legislation to which they are subject;
  • devising integrated sectoral action plans to simplify essential technical measures which concern a number of sectors, such as manufacturing industry, the car industry, the fisheries sector or the telecommunications sector;
  • promoting the use of European standards as technical back-up for European legislation or as an alternative to legislation.

The Commission drew up an initial simplification programme as early as 2003 with a view to reducing the volume of the Community acquis. It proposed taking a more systematic approach to consolidation and codification once a legislative instrument had been amended and deleting obsolete legislation from the acquis. The Commission calls upon the stakeholders concerned at Community and national level to continue their efforts in this direction.

As regards existing legislation, the Council drew up a list in 2004 of legislative instruments divided into fifteen priority groups for potential simplification. At the start of 2005, following impact analyses on the scope of the simplification process for this list of instruments, an extensive consultation of the Member States and the business community supplemented by an on-line public consultation pushed the Commission to focus primarily on certain key areas, in line with the objectives of competitiveness and economic revival, such as company law, financial services, transport and consumer protection.

Impact assessment

The Commission undertakes to carry out impact assessments with a view to meticulously analysing the economic, social and environmental consequences of the new legislation. These assessments go hand-in-hand with a wide-scale consultation in order to gather the opinions of all stakeholders wishing to contribute to the drafting of the new rules.

In accordance with the new guidelines for impact assessments, emphasis is laid on economic aspects. The main objective is to support competitiveness, including effective competition, while still assessing the social and environmental consequences of the proposed measures. A complex network of various rules at national and regional level will only undermine competition, whereas the application of a single rule in all the Member States is simpler and more effective.

Better regulation at Member State level

Better regulation is not solely a Community concern based on close interinstitutional cooperation: the Member States can also help to reduce bureaucracy. The Commission wants better regulation to become an integral part of the Lisbon National Action Plans. With this aim in mind, it recommends that the Member States:

  • take national measures to promote better regulation, which should include impact analysis systems and simplification programmes;
  • engage in preventive dialogue with the Commission services in order to avoid introducing procedures which are not automatically required by a directive at the time of its transposition for harmonised areas reserved for texts deemed to be essential;
  • use infringement proceedings and preventive controls to improve the quality of regulations in terms of transparency, legibility and efficiency in non-harmonised areas such as the free movement of goods.

In 2005, the Commission set up advisory monitoring bodies involving:

  • national experts on the issue of better regulation. This group advises the Commission, particularly as regards simplification and impact analyses. It strengthens cooperation between the Commission and the Member States, thereby improving the quality of the implementation of Community legislation;
  • independent experts on better regulation, who can intervene at the request of the Commission. These experts are responsible for giving an external opinion on the scientific rigour of the methodology used for specific impact analyses.

The Commission will continue to publish assessment reports with a view to monitoring the implementation of the simplification strategy.

Related Acts

First progress report on the strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment, 14 November 2006 [COM(2006) 690 – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Commission working document complements the Communication on the Strategic Review of Better Regulation in the European Union. The Commission takes stock of the progress achieved in the implementation of the simplification strategy. It adds 43 initiatives to those identified in October 2005 with a view to enhancing the simplification process in the period 2006-2009. These new initiatives range from administrative simplification in agriculture and the revision of the eco-label award scheme to the simplification of existing legislation on toys.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 14 November 2005, entitled “A strategic review of Better Regulation in the European Union” [COM(2006) 689 – Not published in the Official Journal].

This strategic review analyses the progress achieved and maps out the main challenges ahead. The Commission considers that great effort has gone into achieving better regulation in the EU, but that the programme must continue to be followed with determination. The Commission, the Parliament, the Council and the Member States can do even more. The Commission insists on the need to further simplify the legislation in force, reduce administrative burdens and codify and repeal obsolete legislation. As regards cooperation with the Member States, the most visible progress can be observed in the measurement of administrative costs and the reduction of burdens. Although only relatively few countries systematically use integrated impact assessments for all new legislative proposals, and the results often cannot be subjected to an external audit, many ad hoc initiatives are taken at national level to lighten the administrative burden, such as on-line administration, one-stop shops and national registration offices.

Communication from the Commission of 21 October 2005 on an EU common methodology for assessing administrative costs imposed by legislation [COM(2005) 518 – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Communication outlines an EU common methodology and proposes the next steps for its introduction. The EU common methodology for assessing administrative costs must be applied in a proportionate manner, in other words only when the scale of the administrative obligations imposed by an EU act justifies it. However, some efforts to minimise the administrative burden have not involved quantification. In those cases, complaints and suggestions from targeted groups are gathered through public consultation. A group of experts then examines the regulatory framework and makes recommendations for simplification. The Commission considers that an EU common methodology provides net added value, provided that it is not applied at the expense of analysis of other impacts.

Communication from the Commission of 27 September 2005, entitled “Outcome of the screening of legislative proposals pending before the Legislator” [COM(2005) 462 – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Communication relates to the screening by the Commission of all proposals pending before the Council and the Parliament. One of the factors contributing to the success of the simplification objectives is interinstitutional cooperation. These impact assessments, defined in the Communication of March 2005, relate to pending proposals. When the screening process was launched in April 2005, the total number of pending proposals was 489. The Commission provides for two types of action: the withdrawal of proposals and the continuation of the legislative process with an in-depth economic analysis. Following screening by the Commission, action will be taken as regards the 73 pending proposals which were considered not to be consistent with the Lisbon objectives.

This fact sheet is not legally binding on the European Commission, it does not claim to be exhaustive and does not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Treaty.