Infringement proceedings against EU Member States
Produced in partnership with Adam Cygan of University of Leicester
Infringement proceedings against EU Member States

The following Public Law practice note produced in partnership with Adam Cygan of University of Leicester provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Infringement proceedings against EU Member States
  • The complaint to the European Commission
  • The procedure under Article 258 TFEU
  • The procedure under Article 260 TFEU
  • Defences to Infringement Actions under Article 258 TFEU
  • No breach exists
  • Reciprocity
  • Force majeure
  • Constitutional or political difficulties (national interest defence)
  • Factual application
  • More...

Under Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), one of the European Commission’s core roles is to supervise Member State compliance with EU law. The general EU infringement procedure constitutes the Commission’s main tool of enforcement. It consists of two distinct procedures stipulated in Articles 258 and 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), each with its own subject-matter.

The main difference is:

  1. the Article 258 TFEU procedure is designed to obtain a declaration that the conduct of a Member State is in breach of EU law and that the conduct will be terminated

  2. the Article 260 TFEU procedure is designed to induce a defaulting Member State to comply with a judgment establishing a breach of obligations, ie repetitive infringements, and it has a much narrower ambit than Article 258 TFEU (see: P Sweden v API and Commission)

The procedural construction thus distinguishes between compliance with Treaty obligations, ‘first order compliance’, and compliance with judgments of the Treaty regime’s dispute settlement body, ‘second order compliance’.

The complaint to the European Commission

Individuals, firms or other private parties whose interests have been harmed by a Member State’s failure to implement EU law or to fulfil EU obligations have no direct remedy in the Court of Justice. Proceedings against a Member State seeking a ruling that it has not complied with its Treaty

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