Sunday

23rd Apr 2017

EU legal wrangle may see traffic violators skip fines

  • Member states have 12 months to change an EU law on sending visiting EU citizens traffic fines (Photo: EUobserver)

People caught speeding or driving drunk in another member state may evade having to pay a fine after national authorities used the wrong legal basis to transpose an EU bill into law.

A ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice on Tuesday (6 May) scrapped an EU directive designed to automatically allow local police to send fines to people from other member states caught committing traffic violations.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The Court said national governments did not transpose the bill correctly.

The EU law was supposed to be based on transport but governments used police co-operation as the legal basis instead.

A EU official representing member states said national authorities had misinterpreted the legal basis of the directive.

“Member states thought that as the directive was about the exchange of information between police authorities and about sanctions, they thought police co-operation would be the correct legal basis,” noted the contact.

The Court annulled the directive but extended the law as is for another 12 months in order to give member states enough time to make the adjustments.

But people who commit traffic violations may not have to worry about receiving any fines at home if member states miss the Court’s 12-month deadline.

“In principle, it shouldn’t be a problem doing it within a year,” said the European Commission’s spokesperson for transport Helen Kearns.

The ruling concerns the EU directive on cross-border exchange of information on road safety offences.

The directive allows police to identify and investigate the owner of a vehicle registered in another member state.

Adopted near the end of 2011, the directive covers eight traffic violations.

The violations are speeding, non-use of a seat-belt, failing to stop at a red traffic light, drink-driving, driving under the influence of drugs, failing to wear a crash helmet, use of a forbidden lane, and illegally using a mobile telephone.

But opt-outs on police co-operation for UK, Ireland, and Denmark means the three countries did not have to apply the directive in the first place.

A car with Irish plates in Belgium flashed for speeding on the highway will still be fined, but the Belgian police will have to go through lengthy administrative procedures to send the ticket and have it paid.

With the Court declaring transport as the real legal basis, the three member states will no longer be exempted.

All three countries, once and if the legal basis is changed, will then be required to transpose the new EU rules into their respective national laws like the 25 other member states.

Italy and Romania were the only member states at the time of negotiations which argued in favour of making transport the legal basis in the first place.

The European Commission brought the case to the court against the Council and the European Parliament around two years ago.

EU scrambles meeting over border chaos

The European Commission has called for a meeting this week with EU state experts, following border chaos after the launch of new rules that require systematic checks of EU citizens at the Schengen zone's external borders.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. Le Pen-Putin friendship goes back a long way
  2. Mogherini should tell Russians their rights matter
  3. Le Pens Freunde aus dem Trump Tower
  4. Sexe et mensonges: l'information russe sur l'UE
  5. Report: Post-Brexit payments, ECJ jurisdiction could last years
  6. Oxford study raises alarm on 'junk' news in France
  7. Thousands to march in defence of science
  8. Illicit Russian money poses threat to EU democracy