Christiana Stilianidou 08 • 01 • 2022

European Commission infringement proceedings against Greece over its failure to observe its EU legal obligations in 2021

Christiana Stilianidou
European Commission infringement proceedings against Greece over its failure to observe its EU legal obligations in 2021
08 • 01 • 2022

The application of EU law is an obligation of the Member States of the European Union. In the event of possible breaches of EU law, the European Commission may take a series of actions against that Member State to ensure the correct and full application of EU law.  In 2021, the European Commission took various actions against Greece under Articles 258 and 260 TFEU, in order to investigate and subsequently correct any breaches of EU law. The European Commission found that Greece in these specific cases did not fulfill its obligations, and therefore violated the law of the European Union.

General context

Each Member State of the European Union must apply EU law and take any appropriate action to that end (see Articles 288 and 291 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU). The European Commission is the body responsible for detecting possible breaches of EU law. In the event that a Member State does not apply Union law and has breached any of their obligations under the EU Treaties (e.g. the country has not taken measures for the full transposition of the provisions of EU Directives), the European Commission can initiate formal infringement proceedings (see, inter alia, Articles 258 and 260 TFEU).

The procedure is as follows:

In the event that the Commission finds a possible breach of EU law or receives an accusation of such, it first tries to resolve the issue by giving the Member State concerned the opportunity to provide factual or legal evidence on the matter with a view to finding a solution under EU law and avoiding formal infringement proceedings. If this fails, the Commission may launch a formal infringement procedure. The procedure follows a number of steps laid out in the EU treaties, each ending with a formal decision:

European Commission Actions against Greece in the year 2021

The European Commission has taken the following actions against Greece in the context of investigating any breaches of European Union law in 2021 (see all the Commission’s actions on Greece over the years here):

(a) sixteen (16) letters of formal notice and one (1) additional letter of formal notice as per Article 258 TFEU (details here)

(b) twelve (12) reasoned opinions as per Article 258 TFEU (details here)

c) referred Greece to the Court of Justice of the European Union in one (1) case, as it considered that the efforts made so far by the Greek authorities to implement the air quality standards enshrined in EU law were unsatisfactory and insufficient

d) sent a warning letter as per Article 260 TFEU in one (1) case, due to Greece’s non-compliance with the decision of the EU Court of Justice on 14 September 2017 (Case C-320/15)

Twenty-nine (29) cases concerning possible violations were closed.

Christiana Stilianidou
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