By Stefanos Evripidou
THE EUROPEAN Commission yesterday decided to send Cyprus a reasoned opinion for applying disproportionate penalties against EU citizens who fail to register their presence in the country in time.
The Commission argued that Cyprus has failed to correctly transpose and apply the Free Movement Directive, under which, member states may require EU citizens to report their presence in their territory within a reasonable and non-discriminatory period of time and penalise non-compliance using “proportionate and non-discriminatory sanctions”.
According to a Commission press release, this is not the case for the sanction prescribed in Cypriot law, which provides for a fine of up to €1,000 for EU citizens staying in Cyprus for longer than 21 days and who fail to report their presence within 35 days of their arrival.
The Brussels-based EU institution also pointed to great delays in issuing residence cards for third-country national family members of EU citizens, beyond the six-month deadline provided for in the directive.
In addition, the fees for obtaining documents certifying permanent residence after five years of residence (€80) are higher than those for issuing identification documents to Cypriot nationals (€20), whilst the directive provides that residence documents should be issued to EU citizens and their family members “free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on nationals for the issuing of similar documents”.
With this reasoned opinion, the Commission requests Cyprus comply with the relevant EU rules. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission can refer Cyprus to the Court of Justice of the EU.
In a separate issue, the Commission has sent a formal request to Cyprus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Portugal and Romania to comply with EU rules on oil stocks.
The relevant directive requires member states to maintain minimum stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products to ensure security of oil supply in case of possible disruptions.
Given the importance of oil in the EU’s energy mix, the EU’s strong external dependence for supply of crude oil and petroleum products and the geopolitical uncertainty in many producer regions, it is vital to guarantee consumers’ access to petroleum products at all times, said the Commission in a released statement.
The EU body said it has yet to be informed by the above countries of any measures for transposing the directive into their national legislation. If the member states do not comply with their legal obligation within two months, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice.
The directive had to be transposed by the member states by December 31, 2012.