Tag Archives: National implementation of Community law

A common legal framework for combating fraud in Community policies

A common legal framework for combating fraud in Community policies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A common legal framework for combating fraud in Community policies

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

Fight against fraud > Protecting the European Union’s financial interests

A common legal framework for combating fraud in Community policies

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC, EURATOM) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities financial interests.

Summary

This regulation establishes provisions to combat fraud against the financial interests of the European Communities. It provides for homogenous checks in all Member States and administrative measures and penalties concerning irregularities with regard to Community law.

Irregularity: an economic operator prejudices the Community budget

“Irregularity” means any infringement of a provision of Community law resulting from an act or omission by an economic operator that has, or would have, the effect of prejudicing the general budget of the Communities or budgets managed by them, either by reducing or losing revenue accruing from own resources collected directly on behalf of the Communities, or by an unjustified item of expenditure.

Economic operators are considered to be natural or legal persons and other entities on which national law confers legal capacity and to whom penalties are applied when they commit an irregularity. Penalties can also apply to those who have been involved in an irregularity, as well as those who are under a duty to take responsibility for or to ensure the non-commission of an irregularity.

Establishing a set of legal rules for all areas covered by Community policies

More than half of Community expenditure is paid to beneficiaries via Member States. This decentralised administration and monitoring of the use of the expenditure are governed by detailed rules that are subject to specific provisions depending on the Community policy concerned. This regulation establishes a set of legal rules for all areas covered by Community policies to protect the financial interests of the European Communities, notably through checks and administrative measures and penalties.

Member States are responsible for taking the necessary measures to ensure the regularity and reality of the transactions involving the Communities’ financial interests. Measures regarding checks must be in proportion to the objectives pursued so as not to entail excessive economic constraints or administrative costs and must take account of Member States’ administrative practices and structures.

The European Commission has responsibility for checking that:

  • administrative practices conform with Community rules;
  • the necessary substantiating documents exist and that they concord with the Communities’ revenue and expenditure;
  • financial transactions are carried out and checked in appropriate circumstances.

In addition, the European Commission may carry out checks and inspections on the spot.

Withdrawal of the wrongly obtained advantage

In general, any irregularity will result in the withdrawal of the wrongly obtained advantage with, where appropriate, interest determined on a flat-rate basis. This may consist of:

  • an obligation to pay or repay the amounts due or wrongly received;
  • the total or partial loss of the security provided in support of the request for an advantage granted or at the time of the receipt of an advance.

Intentional irregularities or irregularities caused by negligence may lead to administrative penalties, such as:

  • payment of an administrative fine;
  • payment of an additional sum, which may not exceed the level strictly necessary to constitute a deterrent;
  • total or partial removal of an advantage granted, even if the operator wrongly benefited from only a part of that advantage, or exclusion from or withdrawal of the advantage for a period subsequent to that of the irregularity;
  • other penalties of a purely economic type provided for by Community law.

General principles

Administrative checks, measures and penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. They must take account of the nature and seriousness of the irregularity, the advantage granted or received and the degree of responsibility.

An administrative penalty may only be imposed if, prior to the irregularity, a Community act has made provision for it.

The limitation period for proceedings is four years, starting from the date on which the irregularity was committed. For continuous or repeated irregularities, the limitation period runs from the date on which the irregularity ceases. In the case of multiannual programmes, the limitation period runs until the programme is terminated.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC, EURATOM) No 2988/95

26.12.1995

OJ L 312, 23.12.1995

ECall: Time for deployment

eCall: Time for deployment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about eCall: Time for deployment

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Internal market > Motor vehicles > Technical implications of road safety

eCall: Time for deployment

Document or Iniciative

Communication of 21 August 2009 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – ‘eCall: Time for Deployment’ [COM(2009) 434 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication reports on progress made in deploying eCall in Europe.

eCall: operation

Operation of eCall is based on the principle defined in the 2005 Communication – Bringing eCall to Citizens.

In the event of an accident, in-vehicle sensors will automatically trigger an eCall. A voice connection is established with the European emergency number 112 and routed to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). At the same time, an emergency message is sent, providing information such as the time, location and driving direction (Minimum Set of Data – MSD).

The system which processes MSD information enables the operator to hear what is happening in the vehicle and talk with the occupants of the vehicle if possible. Emergency services and equipment to be sent out can thus be better defined.

Progress and achievements

Standardisation activities

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has approved the MSD structure, and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has given its approval of the eCall discriminator which differentiates between 112 calls and eCalls, as well as between manual eCalls and those triggered automatically.

The protocols for sending the MSD from the vehicle to the PSAP operator, and pan-European eCall operating requirements have also been approved.

Commitments made by major stakeholders

Automotive manufacturers have committed to promoting eCall and have pledged to offer eCall as an option for new type-approved vehicles of certain categories.

The Member States have also agreed on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It has been signed by 20 Member States and by Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Other Member States such as Poland and Ireland have also expressed their willingness to sign the MoU.

Regarding mobile network operators, a special task force has been formed by GSM Europe, the association representing them. This task force has offered to prepare eCall strategies and to contribute to its standardisation.

Proposed action

Deployment of eCall was initially planned for 2009. However, it has been considerably delayed. Simultaneous action by all stakeholders is needed in order to implement this service.

The Commission and Member States should make an active contribution to the work of the European eCall Implementation Platform so that all stakeholders participate in its deployment.

Coordinated awareness campaigns will be launched to increase understanding of and demand for the service.

If no significant progress is made, the Commission plans to take regulatory measures in 2010 such as:

  • a Recommendation concerning Member States and mobile network operators;
  • a Proposal for a Regulation on vehicle type-approval;
  • a possible regulatory measure relating to the upgrading of the PSAP infrastructure.

Context

In 2009, there were 35 000 deaths and more than 1.5 million injured on European Union roads. In the light of these figures, it is important to implement eCall as soon as possible. This would enable accident locations to be cleared quickly and thus contribute to reducing road congestion. This would lead to a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Furthermore, this service could not only save up to 2 500 lives, but also mitigate the severity of injuries, reduce health costs and above all attenuate human suffering.

Protection against trade barriers

Protection against trade barriers

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

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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].

Summary

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.

Definitions

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.

References

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

1.1.1995

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

24.2.1995

OJ L 41 of 23.2.1995

Regulation (EC) No 125/2008

5.3.2008

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].

Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities

Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities

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

Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society

Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 2 July 2008 – Non-discrimination and equal opportunities: A renewed commitment [COM(2008) 420 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This communication renews the Commission’s commitment to fight against discrimination and to promote equal opportunities by establishing a comprehensive approach to step up action to that end. It also presents the developments in the legal framework against discrimination and in the policy tools for promoting equal opportunities.

An effective legal framework, which is properly enforced, is paramount to fighting discrimination and to guaranteeing efficient systems of redress for victims. Hence, the Commission is committed to monitoring the Member States implementation of the existing legal framework, which consists of Council Directives:

  • 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin;
  • 2008/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation;
  • 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services.

The Commission reported on the implementation of the first two directives in 2006 and 2008, whereas a report on the 2004 directive is expected for 2010. Overall, the implementation of the directives has been perceived as positive. Nevertheless, approximately half of the Member States have not fulfilled their obligations in terms of scope, definitions or provisions on victims’ assistance.

The Commission is also involved in facilitating the cooperation and information exchanges between, as well as the capacity-building of, national equality bodies. These bodies are particularly important in informing and assisting victims in dispute resolutions. Based on their work, the Commission will examine whether penalties and time limits for brining actions before courts are effective at the national level.

At the European level, however, the existing legal framework for fighting discrimination is incomplete, the scope of protection differing from ground to ground. Consequently, the Commission published, together with this communication, a proposal for a directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008) 426), which aims to complete the legal framework on anti-discrimination. The directive will prohibit all forms of discrimination and harassment on the above-mentioned grounds beyond the workplace and provide appropriate redress systems for victims throughout the European Union (EU).

A range of policy tools are also needed to complement the legal framework, in order to promote equal opportunities effectively. The Commission is committed to strengthening the:

  • mainstreaming of non-discrimination into all Community policies, building in particular on the achievements of the EU’s disability strategy and the roadmap for equality between women and men for 2006-10;
  • measuring of discrimination and evaluating of progress, to which end it will examine whether the regular collection of statistics on the scale and impact of discrimination and the establishment of a EU-survey module on discrimination are feasible;
  • use of positive action by Member States, especially to enhance equal opportunities for access to education, employment, housing and health care;
  • awareness-raising and training activities on current legislation for the main stakeholders by providing them with further support. It will also continue its EU information campaign ‘For Diversity – Against Discrimination’;
  • promotion of the benefits of diversity at the workplace by encouraging the development of voluntary EU-wide initiatives, further collaboration between businesses and educational institutions, and improving diversity management in public administrations at all levels.

The dialogue on non-discrimination and equal opportunities among relevant stakeholders, which was launched with the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All (2007), will be continued on an annual basis through the equality summits. In addition, a governmental expert group on non-discrimination has been established to carry out impact assessments on and develop benchmarks for measures and policies, as well as to substantiate best practice. One of its first themes of work will be multiple discrimination.

The Commission feels that it is also important to take into consideration the particular concerns of specific groups, such as that of the Roma. The Commission staff working document on community instruments and policies for Roma inclusion, which accompanies this communication, responds to that need.