20th Jan 2022

Member states are slow at applying new EU law

  • This result is disappointing, said EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission has criticized EU member states for once again lagging behind in implementing EU internal market laws.

The criticism comes after Brussels had earlier this year praised EU capitals for their best results in a decade.

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According to the latest internal market scoreboard, published Monday (2 July), member state's performance has worsened compared to January figures with 1.6 percent of internal market laws not transferred into national law by member states – up from 1.2 percent.

In March 2007, EU leaders set themselves a goal of having one percent or less of laws not implemented. However, only nine member states – Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia - of the 25 EU-countries have achieved this.

Figures for Bulgaria (2.9%) and Romania (7.4%) have not been integrated into the latest scoreboard figures, given the enormous task they faced in transposing all the EU laws in time for accession.

"This result might seem disappointing at first sight, given that the recent positive trend was reversed," said EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy in a statement on Monday.

"For some member states the result is very disappointing. But overall there are signs that we will be back on track again in six months' time. I hope this will be the case," he said.

Lithuania has taken the lead with an "implementation deficit" of 0.5 percent - only eight directives away from a zero percent deficit – and closely followed by Latvia (0.7%), Slovakia and Denmark (all on 0.9%).

Estonia and France reached their best result ever with 1.0% and 1.2% respectively.

At the other end of the scale, Portugal – now holding the rotating EU presidency – and Luxembourg are the trailers on the scoreboard, still failing to implement 4.4 percent and 3.3 percent of EU law respectively, followed by Italy (2.7%) and Greece (2.4%).

Portugal's result is almost three times worse than the EU average. Last time around, Portugal was already the worst performer, but it has increased its deficit further by a "worrying" 1.4 percent, warned the commission.

"Member states now need to focus on correctly applying internal market rules and on solving infringement cases more quickly than is the case today," Mr McCreevy said.

The commission's regular six-month monitoring includes a report on how many infringement procedures have been triggered against countries and their incorrect national versions of EU laws.

According to the EU executive, there is an upward trend in the number of infringement cases, with the EU-25 average for each EU capital now at 53 cases, up from 50 six months ago.

Dublin, Valetta and Warsaw, in particular, have had a substantial increase, while only four EU capitals – The Hague, Athens, Madrid and Rome - managed to reduce the number of infringement proceedings.

The environment, taxation and customs union, and energy and transport sectors account for almost half of all cases.

McCreevy names and shames EU market sinners

The European Commission has slammed national governments for delays in implementing EU internal market laws, with only Denmark, Cyprus, Austria and the UK improving their scores.

Member states score better in applying EU market rules

Brussels has hailed member states for better implementation of EU internal market rules into their national legislation - but pointed out that governments more often than not apply EU rules wrongly.

Covid variants put Schengen under pressure

The EU Commission also raised concerns about the proportionality of Belgium's ban on non-essential travel, for people wishing to leave the country.

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