WITH 43 open infringement cases pending in European Union courts against Cyprus, the island’s compliance with EU law last year was neither great nor terrible, according to a country report by the European Commission.
From the 27 member states the EU counted at the end of last year (Croatia joined this year), Cyprus ranked 14th in terms of how many infringement cases it had open, sharing the spot with Finland.
As an EU member state, Cyprus is responsible for implementing EU law within its own legal system. In what is known as infringement proceedings, the Commission may launch a series of steps to try to get the member state to comply within time limits and may also chose to open a litigation procedure by referring a country to the European Court of Justice.
Four cases were brought before the Courts in 2012. Three related to delays in passing on national legislation to comply with EU directives, while one related to the continuing operation of two major landfills in a way that goes against the Landfill Directive. In total, 24 new infringement cases related to Cyprus’ delays in transposing directives, an improvement from 2011 when Cyprus counted 63 infringement procedures for being late in passing EU laws. “Cyprus has found it particularly challenging to transpose EU directives in policy areas such as: health and consumers (seven new late transposition infringement cases), transport (six), and internal market and services (four),” a press release said.
With 83 complaints against Cyprus last year, Cyprus had the 13th lowest figure in the EU-27 in relation to number of complaints. Nineteen complaints dealt with home affairs, most of them on incorrect refusal of asylum requests and restrictive admission of third-country students while seventeen dealt with restricting freedom to provide services and regulated professions that people perceived as interventions to the market. Sixteen complaints on justice issues mostly focused on the residence rights for EU citizens’ third-country partners and unfair consumer contracts. Other complaints still spoke of nationality-based discrimination on public transport and “flaws in nature protection, urban waste-water treatment and car taxation”.
Cyprus did respond to some infringement cases by amending laws including some that effectively discriminated against EU citizens by restricting the acquisition of a secondary residence or bringing a car to Cyprus. Cyprus also finally designated Oroklini lake as a protected area under the Habitats Directive and dealt with animal welfare issues in the Limassol Zoo. It also transposed the Waste Framework Directive and the Blue Card Directive on highly-skilled third-country employees. Critics in Cyprus claim that some of these directives are not properly implemented, however.
Cyprus was last year found guilty of failing to protect the Cypriot grass snake population in Paralimni Lake that was not properly protected under the Habitats Directive.