Brussels, 26 February 2015.
The Renewable Energy Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources) aims at ensuring a 20% share of renewable energy in the EU by 2020. The Directive had to be transposed by the Member States by 5 December 2010.
The Commission sent a Letter of Formal Notice in January 2011, a Reasoned Opinion in March 2012 and referred the case to the Court of Justice for complete absence of transposition in March 2013. A penalty for non-transposition was originally proposed under Art. 260(3) TFEU, amounting to EUR 133.228,80 per day.
Poland transposed part of the provisions of the Directive during the Court proceedings. Consequently, the Commission narrowed down the scope of the application to the obligations which were still missing and reduced the proposed penalty to EUR 61.380 per day. A hearing before the Court took place on 7 October 2014 and the Advocate-General Wathelet delivered his Opinion on the case on 11 December 2014.
For the sake of consistency, the Commission has decided to apply its normal practice – as set out in its Communication on the implementation of Article 260(3) TFEU, which consists in withdrawing pending cases before the Court of Justice where only a daily penalty has been proposed, if the Member State complies with the obligation to transpose the Directive's obligations into national law. In this specific case, Poland notified the full transposition of the Renewable Energy Directive on 29 January 2015.
Nevertheless, the Commission has also decided to review before summer its policy on infringement procedures and in particular on the application of Article 260(3) TFEU for the future in order to ensure more effective and timely transposition of EU Directives in the Member States.
In addition, the Commission draws attention to paragraph 10 of its Communication on the implementation of Article 260(3), and reserves the right to use its discretion and to depart from the general criteria set out in its Communication, giving detailed reasons, where appropriate in particular cases.
The EU has committed itself to reach a 20% share of renewable energy in final energy consumption and to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% as compared to 1990 levels by 2020. The Renewable Energy Directive includes key provisions for achieving these objectives, particularly setting individual targets for the overall share of renewable energy in each Member State's energy consumption and rules on grid access for electricity from renewable energy sources. For the transport sector, the Directive sets for all Member States a target of 10% share of renewable energy. Where biofuels are used to achieve this target, these must meet a set of sustainability requirements. This means that biofuels cannot be produced from areas which have a high biodiversity value, such as protected areas, or from areas that store a high amount of carbon, such as forests or peat lands. Biofuels also have to save considerably more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, if Member States fail to transpose legislative Directives into national law within the required deadline, the Commission may ask the Court to impose financial sanctions when referring the case to Court.
Usually in cases where the Commission has asked for a daily penalty, the Commission withdraws its action if the Member State notifies the transposition measures required to put an end to the infringement.
For more information: IP/15/4499- Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186
European Commission - IP/15/4499 26/02/2015