Coordination of the transposition of European legislation into Belgian legislation, including the informal European tools: EU Pilot and the Belgian SOLVIT centre.
After its adoption all EU Member States must transpose the directive into their national legislation within the foreseen timeframe. In Belgium, each governmental body is responsible for the transposition of the European directives within its spheres of competence. At a political level, general follow-up and coordination of the transposition process of the different governmental bodies is the responsibility of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, at an administrative level of the FPS Foreign Affairs (DGE/E3).
Objectives for Belgium
As the “guardian of the Treaties”, the European Commission is responsible for the follow-up of the transposition process of all directives in the Member States. Each delay in the transposition of a directive can initiate infringement proceedings, which may culminate in the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling against the Member State, resulting in heavy financial penalties. In the context of this audit, the European Commission publishes a semi-annual Single Market Scoreboard, in which the Member States are ranked on the basis of their transposition results. For the timely transposition of directives, the European Commission tolerates a maximum deficit of 1% (between the number of “internal market” directives adopted at the European level and the number of “internal market” directives transposed by the Member States). For directives with a transposition delay of 2 years or more, a zero tolerance standard is applied.
After having approached the 3% transposition deficit in 2015 (2.8%), Belgium was able to return, thanks to the constant efforts and work of all actors with regard to the transposition, to a score of 1.9% on the scoreboard of June 2017. In spite of a marked improvement, this transposition work must continue in order to reach a deficit inferior to 1% as accepted by the European Commission.
An incorrect transposition or implementation of EU law in general can have various consequences: if the European Commission considers EU law has either been transposed or is currently executed incorrectly, the Member State will be informally asked to correct this. This is done through the EU Pilot system. EU Pilot is an informal and confidential online system of information exchange between the European Commission and the 28 Member States. It serves to determine the conformity of transposition and implementation of national legislation with EU law, based on either complaints and information requests by civilians and companies or on investigations initiated by the European Commission itself. If no solution or consensus is found using the EU Pilot system, infringement proceedings can be initiated by the European Commission.
In case of a misapplication of EU law by a Member State, the matter may be taken before SOLVIT. SOLVIT is a European mediation service, created by the European Commission (in particular the DG GROW) which, in an informal manner, solves complaints of European citizens and companies confronted with cross-border issues caused by wrongful implementation of European legislation by a national governmental body in another Member State. There are SOLVIT centres in each European Member State and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. SOLVIT services are provided for free. If no solution is found within the 70-day period via SOLVIT, as it is likely to concern a structural issue in which national legislation does not comply to European legislation, the European Commission can raise the issue via EU Pilot.
Within the FPS Foreign Affairs, the DGE/E3 is responsible for the coordination of the transposition process of European directives and EU Pilot cases. One of the sensible initiatives is that negotiator and transposer are brought in contact with each other in an early stage. During the coordination meetings within the DGE, the feasibility of the transposition deadline must be discussed and awareness must be raised among the different transposition actors. To achieve a trilogue “Transposition/EU Pilot/SOLVIT, the DGE can be of added value during this stage.
In other words, this trilogue shows a substantive coherence concerning the coordination of a timely and correct transposition of European legislation into national legislation. In this respect it is necessary for Belgium to 'work fast' to reach a timely transposition, and to focus on 'early involvement' of all relevant actors in order to achieve a correct transposition.
Transposition of European directives
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