Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Ninth Report





COM(02) 324

Commission nineteenth annual report on monitoring of the application of Community law (2001).

Legal base:


Document originated:

28 June 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

30 September 2002


Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Basis of consideration:

EM of 10 October 2002

Previous Committee Report:


To be discussed in Council:

No date set

Committee's assessment:

Legally and politically important

Committee's decision:




    1. The nineteenth annual report is the latest Commission examination of the application of Community law by Member States. These reports are made annually.
    2. The document

    3. The report follows the pattern of reports in previous years. Its first part consists of a general description of the results of Commission monitoring of the application of Community law in 2001, including a statistical comparison with 2000, a general review of the transposition of Community directives into national law, an overview of all infringement proceedings commenced or handled by the Commission during the year, and finally an overview of the use of the penalty procedure under Article 228 EC where a Member State has failed to comply with a judgement of the Court of Justice.
    4. The second part of the report consists of a sector-by-sector analysis of the implementation of Community law. There are chapters on economic and financial affairs, various business and industry sectors, competition, employment and social affairs, agriculture, energy and transport, information society, environment, fisheries, internal market, regional policy, taxation and customs union, education, audiovisual media and culture, health and consumer protection, justice and home affairs, budget and personnel and administration. For each sector, there is a description of the implementation of applicable directives and of any infringement cases brought by the Commission against a Member State.
    5. In reviewing the statistics for the year 2001, the Commission notes the continuing importance of complainants in the process of detecting infringements of Community law. In 2001 about 60% of infringement cases initiated by the Commission were opened in response to a complaint, a larger proportion than in the preceding year. The total number of complaints increased by 6.12% compared to the figure for 2000, whilst the Commission opened a smaller number of cases based on its own investigations than in previous years.. As a result the total number of infringement cases initiated by the Commission fell by 11.65% by comparison with 2000. The rate of referrals to the ECJ has remained fairly stable.
    6. On the transposition of directives into national law, the Commission notes that Member States had, on average, notified 97.41% of the national measures needed to implement the directives. This was a clear improvement in the transposal situation in 2000 (96.59%) and is the highest rate achieved since 1992. The Commission notes, however, that the rate for 2001 "is below the target of 98.5%, set by the Stockholm European Council for the transposal of internal market legislation. In terms of all Community legislation for transposal, only Denmark and Spain have reached that target." It is apparent from the summary table at paragraph 1.3 of the report that the United Kingdom had transposed 1428 of the 1482 applicable directives by the end of 2001 (96.36%). This is a fall from the 2000 rate of 96.85%. The UK implementation rate is significantly below the EU average of 97.41%; only Austria's record for 2001 was worse (95.95%).
    7. In relation to infringement proceedings, the summary tables at paragraph 1.6 of the report show that France and Italy still head the list by a considerable margin over other Member States, as they did in the two preceding years, in all three stages of proceedings (letter of formal notice, reasoned opinion and referral to the Court of Justice). The UK is respectively eighth, fifth and eighth from the top in the three stages of infringement proceedings, which is a slight deterioration compared to the positions in 2000. As in previous years, Denmark, Sweden and Finland have the best overall records.
    8. In its review of the procedure under Article 228 EC (under which the Commission may apply to the Court of Justice for a lump sum or penalty payment to be imposed for failure to comply with a judgment of the Court), the Commission states that it has adopted three decisions to refer cases to the Court, against Spain, France and Luxembourg. The Commission notes that the fields covered by these decisions were very diverse and that the penalty payments referral procedure is no longer, as it once was, mainly limited to the environmental and social fields.
    9. The Commission also notes that several cases under the Article 228 procedure were discontinued in 2001 after the Member States concerned had taken steps to comply with the Court judgment. These included the Kouroupitos rubbish tip[70] case, which to date is the only case in which the Court has asked a Member State to make a penalty payment.
    10. The Commission report also contains for the first time a general review of applications for derogations from harmonisation measures under Article 95 of the EC Treaty and of the application of international agreements adopted by the Community and of the law derived from such agreements under Article 300(7) of the Treaty. The Commission notes that it rejected a notification under Article 95(4) by the UK for maintaining the measures in the HIV Testing Kits and Services Regulations 1992[71]. Complaints were also lodged with the Commission concerning the failure by the UK and the Netherlands to comply with certain provisions relating to freedom of movement and establishment contained in the European Agreement with Poland.
    11. The Government's view

    12. In his Explanatory Memorandum of 10 October the Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) expresses the Government's strong support for the principles behind the report and acknowledges its value as a means of highlighting the need for effective implementation of Community law and the work required on the part of national administrations to achieve this. The Government in particular welcomed "the Commission's sustained work to speed up action against Member States for failure to implement Community law and to act under Article 228 when Member States fail to comply with ECJ."
    13. The Minister remarks that the Government was disappointed by the UK's poor showing in the league table on transposition of directives, but emphasises that since the end of 2001 the Government has "reacted with a determined and positive effort" to improve performance in this area, adding that the DTI has recently been spearheading efforts to increase transposition levels and that, as shown in the latest Commission scoreboard, published in May 2002, the UK has now met the 98.5% target. The Minister also notes that in its report in advance of the Barcelona European Council, the Commission singled out the marked improvement of the UK's performance.
    14. Conclusion

    15. As in previous years, the Commission has produced a comprehensive report. It shows that the overall level of compliance by Member States with their Community law obligations remains very high, and that a number of Member States have made particular efforts in this regard.
    16. We welcome the Government's continued support for the Commission's efforts to secure proper implementation of Community law obligations and compliance with the judgments of the Court of Justice. We particularly welcome the Government's efforts to increase the transposition rate for directives and note the recent acknowledgment by the Commission of improvements of the UK's position in this regard.
    17. Although the subject matter of the report is legally and politically important, we have no questions to raise and see no reason to recommend a debate. We therefore clear the document.


70  Commission v Greece Case C-387/97. Back

71  SI 1992/460. Back

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