European Commission refers Estonia to Court of Justice

EU Flag.
EU Flag. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

On Friday, the European Commission announced that it has decided to refer Estonia to the European Court of Justice for its failure to fully transpose the European Competion Network (ECN+) Directive into national legislation.

The ECN+ Directive empowers national competition authorities to be more effective enforcers of EU antitrust rules by providing them with the necessary guarantees of independence, resources and the appropriate fining and enforcement tools, such as decision-making powers, effective leniency programmes and mechanisms for mutual assistance.

EU Member States were required to adopt and publish the necessary measures to ensure the full transposition of the ECN+ Directive no later than February 4, 2021. To date, Estonia has not communicated to the Commission any transposition measures. Therefore, the Commission has decided to refer Estonia to the Court of Justice of the EU.

The Commission will continue to verify that Member States have adopted all the necessary measures to transpose the ECN+ Directive. The referral to the Court of Justice is the third stage of the infringement procedure laid out in EU law.

The Commission previously sent Estonia a letter of formal notice due to its failure to transpose the ECN+ Directive on March 18, 2021. This was followed by a reasoned opinion on September 29, 2022.

In most cases, disputes of this sort are settled before they go to court. However, in some cases, the Court will determine whether or not a Member State has infringed EU law.

If a Member State is deemed to have infringed the law, the Court will order it to remedy the infringement. Although the Court does not set a specific time limit within which to do so, case law requires the Member State to remedy it as soon as possible.

Under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Member State can also be fined at this stage.

Estonia is also subject to four further European Commission infringement proceedings in July.

According to the commission's press service, it hasdecided to open an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Estonia along with Lithuania and Slovenia for failing to fully transpose into its national laws the Directive on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings (Directive (EU) 2016/800). 

The European Commission also decided to send a reasoned opinion to Belgium, Hungary and Estonia for failing to correctly transpose the Directive on the right of access to a lawyer and to communicate upon arrest (Directive 2013/48/EU).

In addition, the commission opted to send a reasoned opinion to Estonia, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg and Poland for failing to transpose the EU rules laid down by the Representative Actions Directive (Directive (EU) 2020/1828). The Directive requires Member States to allow designated consumer organizations and public bodies bring legal actions against traders' illegal practices on behalf of consumers.

Finally, in the field of air transport, the European Commission has decided to open infringement proceedings and has sent letters of formal notice to the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden, for failing to ensure that their operational stakeholders comply with certain requirements within Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/116 on the establishment of the 'Common Project One' supporting the implementation of the European Air Traffic Management Master Plan.

EU Member States have two months to reply to the letters and remedy the deficiencies listed by the Commission.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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