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 13 jul 2017 14:18 

EC refers Belgium to the Court of Justice for failing to provide common rules for non-EU workers


The European Commission decided today to refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully implement the Single Permit Directive (Directive 2011/98/EU). Designed to facilitate legal migration, the Directive introduces simplified procedures and a common set of rights for non-EU workers. Belgium, having failed to meet the initial transposition deadline of 25 December 2013, has still not fully implemented the Directive. As a result, the Commission decided to refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the EU today.

The Single Permit Directive enables non-EU workers to obtain work and residence permits via a single procedure, rather than requiring separate applications for residence and work permits. It also aims at providing a clear set of rules for third country nationals working legally within the EU so that they can benefit from common rights, similar to those of EU nationals, regarding working conditions, pensions, social security and access to public services. The Single Permit Directive complements other EU measures on legal migration, such as the EU Blue Card, the Intra-Corporate Transferees and Seasonal Workers' Directives. It does not harmonise admission conditions for labour immigrants, which will remain in the hands of the Member States.

Member States were required to transpose this Directive in full by 25 December 2013. By that date, Belgium had only partially transposed the new rules. As a result, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Belgium in March 2014 and, subsequently a reasoned opinion in April 2015. In November 2015, the Commission referred Belgium to the Court of Justice of the EU. The referral was put on hold in April 2016, after the Belgian authorities provided additional information. However, to date, Belgium has still not notified the Commission of the full transposition of the Directive into its national law. The Commission has, therefore, decided to refer the case again to the Court of Justice of the EU.

In referring Belgium to the Court of Justice of the EU, the Commission proposes a daily penalty of €70.828,80. The amount of the penalty has been calculated taking into account the seriousness, the duration of the infringement and the deterrent effect reflected in the ability to pay of the Member State.

Next Steps

In case the transposition remains incomplete and the Court of Justice of the EU confirms the Commission's view, the daily penalty would have to be paid from the date of the judgment or a later date set by the Court until the transposition is complete. The final amount of the daily penalty will be decided by the Court, but cannot exceed the Commission's proposal.

Background

The Commission has been closely monitoring progress made by Member States regarding the implementation of the Single Permit Directive (Directive 2011/98/EU) into their national legislation. Overall, 14 Member States had received a letter of formal notice for failing to notify full transposition of the Directive by the prescribed deadline. To date, 13 of those infringements have been closed with Belgium remaining the only Member States that has not fully transposed the Directive.

Under the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, if Member States fail to transpose EU legislation into national law within the required deadline, the Commission may ask the Court to impose financial sanctions. The daily penalty payment is calculated based on a formula, where the following elements are multiplied:

  • seriousness factor;
  • duration of the infringement;
  • "n" factor (which varies between Member States and takes into account their GDP);
  • a flat-rate amount, which currently is set at €680 per day.

For More Information

General information on infringements proceedings in the areas of Migration and Home Affairs.

On the key decisions in the July 2017 infringements package, see full MEMO/17/1935.

On the July infringements package (on letters of formal notices only), see full MEMO/17/1936.

On the general infringements procedure, see MEMO/12/12



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