Malta is the only EU Member State that managed to transpose the block’s Energy Efficiency Directive into national law. The remaining Member States were hit by legal action on Thursday (26 March). The EU Commission now wants Hungary, the only country to be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), to pay a fine of €15,444 daily for not translating the directive by the June 2014 deadline.
EU courts will decide the final amount of any fine and the Commission commented that “the level of this penalty is set taking into account the duration and the seriousness of the infringement”. The infringement procedures can take a number of steps to motivate countries to comply before they are actually fined. By that time, there are three stages – a letter of formal notice, a reasoned opinion, and referral to the ECJ.
Unlike Hungary, which was already subject to two other infringement procedures for not transposing the directive, the other 26 EU countries were hit by infringement procedures because they did not meet the June 2014 deadline to inform the Commission how they were introducing the directive in their home countries. Only four EU countries managed to meet the deadline – Cyprus, Italy, Malta, and Sweden – but only in Malta’s case, the EU executive arm was able to determine that the transposition into national law was sufficient enough.
Only last week, EU leadership supported the Commission’s blueprint for Energy Union, the project to increase the block’s energy independence. According to Commission Chief Spokesman Margaritas Schinas, “these infringement procedures will help to bring closer a meaningful Energy Union in Europe”. Energy and Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete also confirmed that “the Commission is on track at the moment to launch all infringement procedures against all the member states who have not applied the regulation in many areas – but mainly in energy efficiency”.