The European Commission has decided on Thursday to send letters of formal notice to Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Spain and for failing to correctly transpose or implement certain requirements of the Energy Efficiency Directive (Directive 2012/27/EU). The Directive establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the EU in order to ensure the achievement of the EU’s 20% energy efficiency target for 2020 and to pave the way for further energy efficiency improvements beyond that date. These Member States now have two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.
Another EC decision on Thursday refers to the VAT split payment mechanism. The Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice to Romania for applying a split payment mechanism for VAT. Since 1 January 2018, Romania applies this alternative VAT collection mechanism where VAT is paid to a separate blocked account, causing a major administrative burden for honest companies doing business there. This arrangement is mandatory for certain businesses which are required to open a separate blocked VAT bank account. Their customers must split the payment of the invoice by paying the VAT separately to the VAT account of the supplier. The taxpayer may only use the amount collected on the dedicated VAT account to pay VAT to the Treasury and to its suppliers. The measures run against both EU VAT rules (Council Directive 2006/112/EC) and the freedom to provide services (Article 56 of TFEU). Today’s Letter of Formal Notice follows a Communication also adopted on Thursday from the Commission rejecting a request from Romania to derogate from EU rules in this area due to concerns arising from the proportionality principle and compatibility with the Treaty. If Romania does not act within the next two months, the Commission may send a reasoned opinion to the Romanian authorities, releases posted on the EC website read.
Other decisions: Bulgaria and Romania urged to notify national measures in full transposition of EU rules
The Commission calls on Bulgaria and Romania to entirely implement EU law on the temporary prohibition (freezing) and confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds of crime in the EU (Directive 2014/42/EU). This Directive establishes minimum rules on the freezing of property with a view to possible subsequent confiscation and on the confiscation of property in criminal matters. Due to EU regulations in place, this makes it easier for national authorities to confiscate and recover the proceeds and instrumentalities from crime in the EU. According to EU legislation, ‘proceeds’ are considered as any economic advantage derived directly or indirectly from a criminal offence, whereas ‘instrumentalities’ – any property used or intended to be used to commit a criminal offence. Freezing and confiscating property that has been acquired through a criminal offence deprives criminals of their illegally acquired assets. This is a crucial means of combating (organised) crime. It is also a way to stop the proceeds of crime being laundered and reinvested in legal or illegal business activities. Member States had to transpose the Directive into national rules by 4 October 2015. However, Bulgaria and Romania had not communicated any national implementation measures to the Commission. Therefore, the European Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion its national authorities. Bulgaria and Romania have two months to reply; otherwise, the Commission may decide to bring the case on this matter before the Court of Justice of the EU.
EC calls on Ireland, Romania and Slovenia to implement the EU Victims’ Rights Directive
The Commission is sending reasoned opinions to Ireland, Romania and Slovenia to urge them to properly implement the EU Victims’ Rights Directive (Directive 2012/29/EU). The Victims’ Rights Directive gives victims of crime clear rights to access information, to participate in criminal proceedings and to receive support and protection adapted to their needs. This Directive also ensures that vulnerable victims – such as children, victims of rape, or those with disabilities- are identified, so they can receive additional protection during criminal proceedings. The EU rules apply to all victims of crime in the EU regardless of their nationality. The Victims’ Rights Directive had to be transposed into national law by 16 November 2015. Ireland has implemented the rules, however analysis by the Commission shows they are not complete. Romania and Slovenia have notified only partial implementation of the rules. As a result, the Commission is calling on the Irish, Romanian and Slovenian authorities to take action and is sending them reasoned opinions. If the Irish, Romanian and Slovenian authorities fail to act within two months, the cases may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.