Sunday, 18 December 2011

Disobedient Member States

One of the problems that European Commission has to constantly deal with is the late transposition of directives by the Member States. Since the directives do not have direct effect, that means that until the moment they are implemented by the Member States into their own national laws, citizens of the Member States may not benefit from the protection that the European law might have given them in these directives. Therefore, if the directive isn't timely implemented the intended protection of consumers, or harmonizing effect on the internal market that the directive aimed to achieve isn't reached. In order to 'encourage' the Member States to properly and timely implement the directives, the European Commission monitors the transposition process and sanctions those Member States that are too late.

One of the rules that the EU consumers were supposed to benefit as of the end of May 2011 were the new telecommunication rules, according to which e.g. consumers could change telecom operators within one day without changing their phone number as well as get more protection of their privacy and their data online (see: Consumer-friendly mobile phone contracts or Delete cookies?). However, as many as 16 Member States failed to fully implement these provisions up to this day (over 6 months beyond the implementation deadline). The European Commission addressed these Member States and asked for explanation as well as action. The next step would be putting financial penalties on those Member States who do not properly implement the Directive in the coming months. (see: Digital Agenda: Commission presses 16 Member States to implement new EU telecoms rules)

Another consequence of improper transposition may encumber consumers who choose to travel within EU by air. Part of the airline ticket price that passengers pay is the cost of airport charges (i.e. what airlines have to pay to the airports for using airport runaways as well as cost of using airport terminal infrastructure by passengers). Even if most of these airport charges has to be paid directly by the airlines, it ultimately is being borne by the passengers since airlines include these costs in the price of the airline tickets. According to the airport charges directive, which was supposed to be transposed by March 2011, Member States have to make sure that these charges are being set in accordance with principles of transparency, non-discrimination, etc. However, until this day this Directive has not been properly transposed by some Member States (incl. Germany, Austria and Italy with quite important for EU air traffic airports). The lack of transposition of this directive may mean for the consumers that they are paying currently more than what they should for air travel when they are using EU airports. Again, the European Commission addressed these Member States and asked for explanation and action. (see: Air transport: Commission requests Austria, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg to comply with rules on airport charges)

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