Transport: EC Action

Transport written question – answered on 12th February 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what provisions of EU directives within his Department's responsibilities have not yet been transposed into United Kingdom law; in respect of the provisions of which such directives the UK has been subject to infringement action by the European Commission since January 2005; and what stage has been reached in such actions in each case.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

There are 24 EU directives within my Department's responsibilities that have not yet been transposed into UK law. The stages of infringement proceedings are:

Five are the subject of Article 226 Letters.

Four are at the Article 226 Reasoned Opinion stage.

Four were the subject of infringement proceedings that have since been closed or withdrawn.

11 are not yet subject to infringement proceedings by the Commission.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes2 people think so

No1 person thinks not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.


Simon Birkett
Posted on 13 Feb 2009 7:00 pm (Report this annotation)

Dear Mr Davey

You have clearly uncovered the tip of a very large iceberg - in just one government department - with other icebergs likely to be floating nearby. Perhaps that explains (but in no way justifies) the skeleton answer only from the Department for Transport (DfT).

This 'iceberg field' probably extends across every government department and represents: systemic failure on a gargantuan scale; and total disregard for the responsibilities involved in being a member of the European Union.

Perhaps worst of all, even one example shows the public health impact of the government's failures.

Please see a recently launched DfT consultation on regulations to control the sale and installation of replacement catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters for passenger cars and light vans and for 2 or 3 wheeled vehicles:

The covering letter said:

"I am writing to seek your views on two sets of draft Regulations which would introduce standards to be met by replacement catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters which are offered for sale or installed on certain passenger cars and light vans approved to EU emissions standards and by replacement catalytic converters offered for sale or installed on motor cycles and other 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles approved to EU emissions standards.

"This consultation will primarily be of interest to manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, installers and retailers of replacement catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters for cars, vans and 2/3 wheeled vehicles. It will also be of interest to manufacturers and importers of such vehicles and their franchised dealers. Private motorists and motor cycle etc riders and their representative bodies may also have an interest as will those bodies or individuals concerned with environmental protection.

"Both sets of Regulations, in association with the related type approval regulations, will establish, in the interests of improved air quality and public health, emissions standards to be met by these replacement components.

"This will be achieved by implementing the relevant requirements of EU Regulations Nos 715/2007 and 692/2008 in relation to cars and vans and those of EU directives 2005/30/EC and 2006/120/EC in relation to 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles.

"Unfortunately, due to unforeseen delays, EU deadlines for implementation of these requirements have now passed. In view of this and bearing in mind both the mandatory of the EU requirements and the consultations which the Department has already undertaken with many of the manufacturers affected, it is proposed on this occasion to shorten the period available for comment on the proposal from the 12 weeks recommended by the Government’s code of practice to 9 weeks."

In the Question and Answer brief (Q7), the government admitted that some 80% of current replacement catalysts do not meet the emissions standard required of type approved replacements. No wonder then, through lack of transposition or follow through of this sort of minimum public health based legal requirement, that the contribution of the transport sector in 2001 was 39% of total UK emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and 54% of total UK emissions of PM0.1 (by far the largest source in the UK of this dangerous airborne pollutant).

It really is time that the government took seriously its public health and environmental responsibilities.

The European Commission is not on some silly frolick here - it is acting most likely to protect UK citizens when our own government has failed us.

Please pursue your discovery vigorously - across all government departments and ask the government to disclose the full scale and detail of each breach (eg which directive(s) is/are involved, what is the infringement action about, on what date was the infringement action launched, what deadlines have been set by the European Commission (EC) for replies etc)... Also, of course, what costs the UK has incurred for what (eg its own or others' legal expenses) since January 2005 directly and/or indirectly as a result of failing to transpose properly EU directives by the due dates.

These are not trivial government errors. After the first (Letter of Formal Notice) and second (Reasoned Opinion) written warnings, the next stage involves action by the European Court of Justice (first in the form of a 'Judgement' and and then as unlimited lump sum and daily fines) i.e. first stage ECJ action could be imminent in a number of cases... See:

Please keep up the good work and press the government to implement urgently and fully at least all the public health and environmental protection legislation.

Failings on this scale should require a statement from the Prime Minister and dedicated parliamentary time once the key facts are disclosed.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely

Simon Birkett

Principal Contact
Campaign for Clean Air in London