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(NW) EC's Infringement Proceedings against Bulgaria on Free Movement of Goods, Fair Trial, e-Invoicing, Gender Equality, Package Travel Rights, Water

October 30 (BTA correspondent Nikolay Jeliazkov) - The European Commission Friday said it has decided to send the following reasoned opinions and letters of formal notice to Bulgaria. In a reasoned opinion, the Commission asks Bulgaria to remove discriminatory measures obliging retailers to favour domestic food products, following a letter of formal notice sent in May. Bulgarian law obliges retailers to offer distinct exposure and sale space for domestic food products, such as milk, fish, fresh meat and eggs, honey, fruits and vegetables. Such obligations undermine the free movement of goods, enshrined in Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), and also hamper the freedom of establishment under Article 49 of the TFEU. The Commission sent reasoned opinions to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania to fully implement the EU rules on strengthening the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings (Directive (EU) 2016/343), following letters of formal notice sent in May 2018. The Commission considers that the national transposition measures notified by these four Member States constitute only a partial transposition of the Directive and that some provisions of the Directive are missing. In particular, the Commission has identified shortcomings in relation to public references to guilt, for example, when public authorities refer to a person as being guilty in public statements, and the availability of appropriate measures if this happens. There are also gaps related to how suspects and accused persons can be presented, for example at court, using physical restraint measures, and to the right to be present at the trial. Bulgaria has two months to respond to the reasoned opinions; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU. Letters of Formal Notice The Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria and a reasoned opinion to Hungary regarding the transposition of the EU rules on e-Invoicing in public procurement (Directive 2014/55/EU). E-Invoicing aims to ensure the timely and automatic processing of companies' e-Invoices and payments, making it easier for companies to manage their contracts in any Member State. All Member States had to communicate the national transposition measures of the e-Invoicing Directive by April 18, 2019. The Commission is taking action against Bulgaria and Hungary to ensure that transposed national measures cover the full scope of the e-Invoicing Directive. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria for incorrect implementation of EU rules on equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security (Council Directive 79/7/EEC). Bulgarian pension law indirectly discriminates against women. More precisely, to obtain a pension, the Bulgarian law requires a contribution of full-time worker during a given time period, whereas for a part-time worker, a pro rata principle applies. This affects unfairly part-time workers, most of whom are women, since their pension benefits are reduced because their salary is low and then, their length of service is again artificially reduced. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria and reasoned opinions to Croatia, Lithuania, and Slovakia for their national rules that infringe EU law on package travel rights. Under the EU Package Travel Directive, travellers have the right to get reimbursement in money for cancelled trips within 14 days after the cancellation. In Bulgaria, specific national rules on package travel came into application in August obliging travellers to accept a voucher or a refund within 12 months after the cancellation of their travel packages. Such national rules breach the provisions of this EU Directive and weaken consumer rights. The Commission sent letters of formal notice to Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta and Spain asking them to submit the relevant required reports under various EU laws related to water. Member States have reporting obligations related to, among others, the Environmental Quality Standards Directive(2008/105/EC) and the Floods Directive (2007/60/EC). Under the Floods Directive, Member States must provide information on the review of their preliminary flood risk assessments, and, if necessary, update them. Under the Environmental Quality Standards Directive, Member States must provide information about their updated monitoring programme and preliminary programme of measures covering the new environmental quality standards. Bulgaria now has two months to reply to the arguments put forward by the Commission in the letters of formal notice; otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion. RI/DS /ДЛ/ 31 Ekim 2020, 08:00

Kaynak: BTA Free News

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