Ireland warned about breach of directive

The European Commission has sent Ireland a second reasoned opinion asking it to fully implement a directive concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity.

Member states were required to implement Directive 2009/72 (the Electricity Directive) into national law by March 31st, 2011 (other than certain provisions such as those in respect of the unbundling of vertically integrated entities, where member states were granted an extra 12 months).

The Commission sent Ireland its first reasoned opinion on its failure to implement the directive in June 2012. This second reasoned opinion, announced on April 25th, clarifies the Commission’s views regard transposition of the unbundling provisions in the Electricity Directive.

Failure by Ireland to respond satisfactorily to the Commission’s reasoned opinion within two months means that the Commission can refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Other developments

In other EU law developments, agreement was reached on April 23rd between the Commission, European Parliament and Council of the EU on the proposed directive on residential mortgages.

The parliament is expected to vote on the proposed directive at its plenary session to be held from June 10th-13th, 2013. The council will then formally adopt it at one of its forthcoming meetings.

The key topics covered by the directive relate to advertising and marketing, pre-contractual information, creditworthiness and suitability assessments, early repayment regulation of credit intermediaries and regulation of non-credit institutions providing mortgage credit.

Compensation claim

On March 14th, the ECJ gave its decision on a compensation claim for the decrease in value of a house that was built close to Vienna-Schwechat airport. After the airport was extended without an environmental impact assessment (EIA), the claimant argued that the failure to carry out an EIA gave rise to compensation for the decrease in value of the house due to aircraft noise.

The ECJ decided that the fact that an EIA had not been carried out did not give the claimant a right to compensation for pecuniary damage but the national court could decide if the requirements of EU law relating to compensation had been met (including if there was a causal link between the EU law breach and the damage caused).

Separately, the commission has informed suppliers of smart card chips of its initial view that they may have participated in a cartel in breach of EU antitrust rules. Smart card chips are frequently used by consumers such as in mobile phone SIM cards, passports, identity cards, bank cards and Pay TVs. The commission initially agreed to explore the possibility of a settlement with the chips companies involved but has now discontinued the talks due to a reported lack of progress.

*Alan McCarthy is a member of the Irish Society for European Law

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