22nd Mar 2018

EU states not toeing the line on tobacco, equality laws

  • European Commission is taking member states to court in Luxembourg for not following EU rules (Photo: Alfonso Salgueiro)

Around a dozen member states are set to face the European Commission at the EU Court of Justice for not following EU laws.

Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom were singled out by the EU executive on Thursday (10 July).

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At the same time, the commission adopted 419 legal decisions which could lead to more court cases should member states fail to take steps needed to comply with the rules.

One of the decisions involves getting member states to set up a common airspace to better manage flight paths.

Eighteen member states have been told to step up their efforts.

“Right now these common airspaces exist only on paper; they are formally established but not yet functional,” said EU commissioner for transport Sim Kallas, in a statement.

Some of the notable court referrals include Austria and Poland.

Both are facing big fines for not having implemented a law on energy efficiency in buildings.

The commission is asking the Luxembourg-based court to impose a daily penalty of €39,592.80 on Austria and €96,720 on Poland until the directive is implemented.

“The level of penalties proposed takes into account the duration and gravity of the infringement,” says the commission.

The sale of mouth-tobacco product snus is banned everywhere in the EU except for Sweden.

But some forms of the snus can still be found on the shop shelves in Denmark, says the commission.

The commission had notified Denmark in 2012 to amend its national legislation to ban the mouth tobacco altogether.

“Until now, Denmark has not notified any such measures to the commission and continues to be in breach of EU law,” said the commission in a statement.

Snus is also at the centre of a separate tobacco-lobbying scandal that saw a European commissioner for health, John Dalli, leave office in disgrace.

Portugal is having problems with tobacco as well.

The commission is unhappy about Portugal’s excise duty rules on marketing cigarettes.

Meanwhile, Finland is being reprimanded for not guaranteeing the equality rights of workers.

EU law requires member states to set up a national equality body tasked to provide assistance to victims and issue recommendations to fight discrimination.

Finland’s national body is unable to properly perform its duties, says the commission.

Court ruling to boost access to EU documents

EU institutions must demonstrate that the disclosure of a document effectively harms the public interest if they want to deny publication, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case

The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

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