When EU legislation is not directly applicable at national levels (for example in the case of a Directive), each Member State must implement that legislation before the specified deadline and in a correct manner.
These national implementing measures are monitored by the Commission.
If a Member State fails implement on time or does so in an incorrect manner, the Commission can take whatever action it deems appropriate in response to either a complaint or indications of infringements which it detects itself. Under the non compliance procedure started by the Commission, the first phase is the pre litigation administrative phase also called “Infringement proceedings”. The purpose of this pre-litigation stage is to enable the Member State to conform voluntarily to the requirements of the Treaty.
There are several formal stages in the infringement procedure:
* The letter of formal notice represents the first stage in the pre-litigation procedure, during which the Commission requests a Member State to submit its observations on an identified problem regarding the application of Community law within a given time limit.
* The reasoned opinion is a detailed statement that sets out the Commission’s position on the infringement and determines the subject matter of any action, requesting the Member State to comply within a given time limit.
* Referral by the Commission to the Court of Justice opens the litigation procedure. It is interesting to note that anyone may lodge a complaint with the Commission against a Member State for any measure (law, regulation or administrative action) or practice attributable to a Member State which they consider incompatible with a provision or a principle of Community law, without having to demonstrate a formal interest in bringing proceedings.
The full procedure is set out at http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/your_rights/your_rights_en.htm
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