Tag Archives: Public administration

Preparations for public administrations

Preparations for public administrations

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Preparations for public administrations

Topics

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

Preparations for public administrations

Document or Iniciative

Commission working paper of 16 December 1997: Preparations for the changeover of public administrations to the euro [SEC (97) 2384 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

As regards the practical arrangements for the changeover of national public administrations, the scenario adopted at the Madrid European Council meeting provides that:

“The generalisation of the use of the euro for public sector operations will occur in all participating Member States at the latest when the euro banknotes and coins are fully introduced. The time frame will be laid down in Community legislation and might leave some freedom to individual Member States.”

Given the often considerable structural differences between Member States’ constitutions and legal systems, the Commission has refrained from proposing harmonised changeover measures for national public administrations, except for the two regulations which form the legal framework for the euro.

Under these arrangements, national administrations may offer private economic agents the option of using the euro unit for all their financial flows and communications with the State. In countries which intend to offer this option a provision usually stipulates that, once a company has chosen the euro unit before the end of the transitional period, it cannot revert to the national currency unit.

The preparations so far made for the changeover to the euro can be summarised as follows:

  • ten Member States have published a national changeover plan or, in one case, a comprehensive draft transition law;
  • a majority of Member States intends to give companies, and in many cases individuals, the option at least partially to communicate and to execute financial flows with public administrations either in the national currency unit or in the euro unit from January 1999 onwards;
  • the range of these “euro options” varies from one Member State to the other. They cover areas such as company accounting and reporting, the founding of companies with their capital in the euro unit, the redenomination of an existing company’s capital into the euro unit, or tax and social security declarations and payments;
  • Member States expecting to participate in 1999 intend to continue to operate internally (i.e. budgets and internal accounting) in the national currency unit until the end of the transitional period in December 2001. There is, however, a discernible trend towards the parallel publication of major government data in the euro unit;
  • depending on the individual structures of Member States, coordination with regional and local authorities has become an essential element of national changeover preparations.

The paper also contains a technical fact sheet for each country, giving an overview of the current state of the preparations carried out by public administrations.

The Internal Market Information System

The Internal Market Information System

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Internal Market Information System

Topics

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

The Internal Market Information System (IMI)

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 6 November 2008 “Delivering the benefits of the single market through enhanced administrative cooperation” [COM(2008) 703 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The internal market information system (IMI) is an electronic tool designed to support administrative cooperation in the field of legislation relating to the internal market. The IMI helps competent authorities in Member States to overcome practical difficulties related in particular to differences in administrative culture, the use of different languages and the identification of partners in other Member States.

The IMI is a secure internet application, available to all administrations in the thirty countries of the European Economic Area (EEA). It is available in all European Union languages.

Principles

The IMI is based on three key principles:

  • it does not impose additional obligations on Member States in terms of administrative cooperation;
  • it is flexible enough to adapt to the diverse administrative structures and cultures in Europe;
  • it is a single system, designed to be able to integrate many pieces of Internal Market legislation which avoids a proliferation of information systems.

Benefits

The system offers many benefits. In particular Member States are able to manage a single relationship with the network instead of 29 separate bilateral relationships, communicate using a clear working method by joint agreement, reduce language problems, save resources and time, and improve service quality through increased transparency and predictability.

Data protection

As IMI is used for the exchange of personal data, relevant legislation fully applies to the system in terms of data protection. Moreover, Commission Decision 2008/49/EC lays down the functions, rights and obligations of IMI users.

Context

The creation of the IMI was motivated by the importance of administrative cooperation in setting up a dynamic single market, in accordance with the Lisbon Strategy. The IMI should also contribute to strengthening the application of Community law at national level, and therefore the implementation of the “Better Regulation” programme. It is also part of the i2010 eGovernment Action Plan.

A first pilot project was launched in November 2007 for four professions referred to in Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications. The system will be progressively extended to other professions.

A second pilot project was launched in January 2009 on the basis of the ‘Services’ Directive. It should last until 28 December 2009, at which date the Directive should be fully transposed by the Member States. The aim is to prepare the implementation of an operational IMI system, covering all service activities by the end of 2009. In the future, the IMI could also be used to strengthen administrative cooperation in other sectors covered by internal market legislation.

Related Acts

Commission Recommendation of 26 March 2009 on data protection guidelines for the Internal Market Information System (IMI) [Official Journal L100 of 18.4.2009].
This Recommendation invites Member States to take measures to implement the guidelines in the Annex. The guidelines concern data protection, the safeguards built into the system and the risks associated with its use.

National IMI coordinators are also encouraged to make contacts with their national data protection authorities with a view to implementing these guidelines in accordance with national law.

The European Commission is to be informed of the implementation of these guidelines not later than nine months after the adoption of this Recommendation.

Freedom of access to information

Freedom of access to information

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Freedom of access to information

Topics

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

Environment > General provisions

Freedom of access to information

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC.

Summary

Access to environmental information held by the public authorities is a prerequisite for stepping up the application and monitoring of Community environment law.

Disparities between the laws in force in the Member States concerning access to environmental information held by public authorities can create inequality within the Community as regards access to information and/or as regards conditions of competition.

‘Information relating to the environment’ means any available information in written, visual, aural or data-base form on the state of water, air, soil, fauna, flora, land and natural sites, and on activities or measures adversely affecting or likely so to affect these, and on activities or measures designed to protect these (including administrative measures and environmental management programmes).

The purpose of this Directive aims is to ensure that environmental information is systematically available and distributed to the public. That information includes at least:

  • international treaties, conventions and agreements and Community, national, regional and local legislation concerning the environment;
  • environment policies, programmes and plans;
  • reports on the state of the environment (to be published at least every four years);
  • data on activities affecting the environment;
  • environmental authorisations and agreements;
  • environmental impact studies and risk assessments.

Member States must ensure that public authorities make environmental information held by or for them available to any applicant, whether a natural or a legal person, on request and without the applicant having to state an interest. They must also ensure that:

  • officials assist the public in seeking access to information;
  • lists of public authorities are publicly accessible;
  • the right of access to environmental information can be effectively exercised.

Member States must ensure that all information held by the public authorities relating to imminent threats to human health or the environment is immediately distributed to the public likely to be affected.

Information must be made available to the applicant not later than one month after receipt of the request. If the volume and complexity of the information is such that this period cannot be complied with, a period of two months from the date of receipt of the request is to be allowed.

Access to public registers and lists and examination in situ of the information requested are free of charge. However, authorities may make a reasonable charge for supplying any environmental information.

Should information be requested in a specific format, the public authority must supply it in that format, unless it is already publicly available in another format or unless it is reasonable for the public authority to make it available in another format. In this case, the reasons for refusal to make it available in the requested format must be provided to the applicant within one month. Public authorities must endeavour to keep information in formats which are readily reproducible and accessible by electronic means, and ensure it is up-to-date, accurate and comparable.

Requests for information may be refused (a notification stating the reasons for the refusal being sent to the applicant within one month, in writing or electronically) where:

  • the public authority does not hold the requested information. Nonetheless, where it is aware that the information is held by another authority, it must inform the applicant accordingly;
  • the request is unreasonable;
  • the request is too general. However, the authority must ask the applicant to specify the request and help him to do so;
  • the requested information is in the course of completion;
  • the request concerns internal communications;
  • disclosure of the information would adversely affect the confidentiality of the proceedings of public authorities or of commercial or industrial information, public security or national defence, the course of justice, intellectual property rights, the confidentiality of personal data, the interests of the person who supplied the information on a voluntary basis, or the protection of the environment.

Where the information relates to emissions into the environment, Member States may not provide for a request to be refused by virtue of the exceptions relating to the confidentiality of the proceedings of public authorities, the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information, the confidentiality of personal data, the interests or the protection of any person who has supplied the requested information on a voluntary basis or the protection of the environment to which such information relates.

Member States must ensure that any applicant who considers that his request for information has not been handled in accordance with the provisions of the Directive has access to a procedure of administrative reconsideration or review. Any such procedure must be expeditious and inexpensive, and must be carried out by an independent body.

Not later than 14 August 2009, Member States must send the Commission a report on the application of the Directive. In turn, the Commission must report to the Council and the European Parliament and propose any appropriate revision of the Directive.

Background

On 25 June 1998 the Community signed a Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (the Aarhus Convention). So that it can be ratified, Community legislation must be compatible with it. This Directive seeks this compatibility, extends the level of access to information set in Directive 90/313/EC and repeals this with effect from 14 February 2005.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2003/4/EC 14.02.2003 14.02.2005 OJ L 41 of 14.02.2003

Related Acts

Report – COM(2000) 400 final

Article 8 of Directive 90/313/EC states that, four years after 31 December 1992, the Member States must report to the Commission on the experience they have gained. In the light of this report, the Commission must present a report to the European Parliament and the Council, together with any proposals for revision it considers appropriate. The report is based on the experience gained by the Member States in implementing the Directive. It takes into account the reports drawn up by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the environmental domain and developments in Community and international law. Complaints, petitions and parliamentary questions play a vital role in defining the main problems. These are the following:

  • definitions of information needing to be divulged and the public authorities and other bodies which are obliged to provide it;
  • the practical methods designed to guarantee effective access to the information;
  • exemptions to the obligations to provide access to information;
  • the requirement to reply;
  • deadlines applicable to obligations;
  • the requirement to justify any refusal;
  • the procedure for reviewing-examining decisions to reject requests for information;
  • charges;
  • the active provision of information.

The Commission has decided to present Directive 2003/4/EC in order to correct these errors and observe its obligations under the Aarhus Convention.

Combating late payment in commercial transactions

Combating late payment in commercial transactions

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating late payment in commercial transactions

Topics

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

Enterprise > Business environment

Combating late payment in commercial transactions

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2011/7/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on combating late payment in commercial transactions (Text with EEA relevance).

Summary

This Directive aims at combating late payment * in commercial transactions * in order to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market and to foster the competitiveness of undertakings, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Directive applies to all types of payment made as remuneration for commercial transactions between public authorities and between undertakings. It may exclude:

  • debts that are subject to insolvency proceedings against a debtor;
  • proceedings aimed at debt restructuring;
  • transactions with consumers;
  • interest relating to other payments (for examples payments made under the laws on cheques and bills of exchange, or payments made as compensation for damages including payments from insurance companies).

Transactions between undertakings

In the event of late payment, a creditor is entitled to claim interest on condition that they have fulfilled their contractual and legal obligations and that they have not received the amount due * on the agreed date. The creditor is paid such interest according to the payment period or date laid down in the contract.

With regard to commercial transactions between economic operators, the Directive stipulates, whilst respecting their contractual freedom, that they must pay their invoices within 60 days except where they have expressly agreed otherwise and insofar as other terms are not grossly unfair to the creditor.

Where the contract does not specify any date for payment, the creditor is also entitled to receive interest if 30 calendar days after receipt, by the debtor, of the invoice or an equivalent request for payment, the creditor has not received the amount due.

The creditor may even be entitled to compensation from the debtor for recovery costs.

Transactions between undertakings and public authorities

In the event of late payment, and where the debtor is a public authority, the creditor shall be entitled to claim interest if they have fulfilled their contractual and legal obligations and have not received the amount due on the agreed date.

Where the debtor is a public authority, the date of receipt of the invoice must not be the subject of a contractual agreement. The period of payment for an invoice must not exceed:

  • 30 days following receipt of the invoice;
  • 30 days following the date of receipt of the goods or services where the date of receipt of the invoice is uncertain.

Member States may extend payment periods to a maximum of 60 days under certain conditions.

The statutory rate of interest for late payment shall be increased to at least 8 percentage points above the reference rate applied by the European Central Bank. Public authorities may not set lower interest rates for late payment.

Unfair contractual terms and practice

Contractual terms shall not apply if they cause prejudice or are unfair to the creditor – for example if they exclude the payment of interest for late payment or compensation for recovery costs.

In order to avoid such unfair practice, Member States must ensure transparency with regard to the rights and obligations resulting from this Directive and shall be bound to publish the applicable rate of statutory interest for late payment.

Member States may also encourage the implementation of payment codes setting out payment time limits.

Recovery procedures

Creditors may lodge action or apply to a court provided that the debt is not disputed.

This Directive repeals Directive 2000/35/EC.

Key terms of the Act
  • Late payment: payment not made within the contractual or statutory period of payment.
  • Commercial transactions: transactions between undertakings or between undertakings and public authorities which lead to the delivery of goods or the provision of services for remuneration.
  • Amount due: the principal sum which should have been paid within the contractual or statutory period of payment, including the applicable taxes, duties, levies or charges specified in the invoice or the equivalent request for payment.

References

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

Directive 2011/7/EU

15.3.2011

16.3.2013

OJ L 48, 23.2.2011