With the issue of economic sanctions threatened by Brussels dogging the press, news that Portugal could be taken to the EU court of justice over its failure to comply with an EU directive has hardly made it into the headlines.
But as Económico explains, Brussels frequently has to pull up member states on compliance issues and currently has at least eight cases in court and another 20 on the go, covering countries like Greece, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Finland, Croatia, Austria, Belgium, Romania and Slovenia.
Portugal’s problem right now lies in directive 2009/15/CE which establishes rules about checking ships in national waters, to ensure they conform with all international conventions on maritime safety and prevention of marine pollution.
According to Económico website, member states are bound to furnish the EC with reports every two years, outlining the results of their “control”, but Portugal has yet to produce even one report.
“As the inspection, checks and certification are crucial to maritime safety and the prevention of marine pollution, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Portugal,” writes Económico.
Portugal will now be given two months to “notify the Commission of the measures taken to apply the obligation of supervision and corresponding presentation of reports as per the directive”, says a communiqué issue by the permanent representative of the EC in Portugal.
If nothing transpires, the EC “could decide to lodge an action against the Portuguese state in the Court of Justice of the European Union”.
This sounds serious, but if one recalls that the EC has twice declared Portugal’s decision to implement motorway tolls on roads built with EU money illegal, and both times threatened prosecution at the Court of Justice, the threat can be put into some kind of perspective.