Tuesday, 10 June 2008

EU TFEU: Approximation of laws

Article 26 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) sets out the aim to establish and to ensure the functioning of the internal market. The approximation or harmonisation of member states’ laws is one of the methods used to achieve this aim.

We look at internal market approximation of laws in the light of the EU Treaty of Lisbon, by comparing Article 114 TFEU with the current provision and the previous treaty reform stages.


***

Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is found in the consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/94–95:

Part Three Union policies and internal actions

Title VII Common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of laws

Chapter 3 Approximation of laws

Article 114 TFEU
(ex Article 95 TEC)

1. Save where otherwise provided in the Treaties, the following provisions shall apply for the achievement of the objectives set out in Article 26. The European Parliament and the Council shall, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee, adopt the measures for the approximation of the provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States which have as their object the establishment and functioning of the internal market.

2. Paragraph 1 shall not apply to fiscal provisions, to those relating to the free movement of persons nor to those relating to the rights and interests of employed persons.

3. The Commission, in its proposals envisaged in paragraph 1 concerning health, safety, environmental protection and consumer protection, will take as a base a high level of protection, taking account in particular of any new development based on scientific facts. Within their respective powers, the European Parliament and the Council will also seek to achieve this objective.

4. If, after the adoption of a harmonisation measure by the European Parliament and the Council, by the Council or by the Commission, a Member State deems it necessary to maintain national provisions on grounds of major needs referred to in Article 36, or relating to the protection of the environment or the working environment, it shall notify the Commission of these provisions as well as the grounds for maintaining them.

5. Moreover, without prejudice to paragraph 4, if, after the adoption of a harmonisation measure by the European Parliament and the Council, by the Council or by the Commission, a Member State deems it necessary to introduce national provisions based on new scientific evidence relating to the protection of the environment or the working environment on grounds of a problem specific to that Member State arising after the adoption of the harmonisation measure, it shall notify the Commission of the envisaged provisions as well as the grounds for introducing them.

6. The Commission shall, within six months of the notifications as referred to in paragraphs 4 and 5, approve or reject the national provisions involved after having verified whether or not they are a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade between Member States and whether or not they shall constitute an obstacle to the functioning of the internal market.

In the absence of a decision by the Commission within this period the national provisions referred to in paragraphs 4 and 5 shall be deemed to have been approved.

When justified by the complexity of the matter and in the absence of danger for human health, the Commission may notify the Member State concerned that the period referred to in this paragraph may be extended for a further period of up to six months.

7. When, pursuant to paragraph 6, a Member State is authorised to maintain or introduce national provisions derogating from a harmonisation measure, the Commission shall immediately examine whether to propose an adaptation to that measure.

8. When a Member State raises a specific problem on public health in a field which has been the subject of prior harmonisation measures, it shall bring it to the attention of the Commission which shall immediately examine whether to propose appropriate measures to the Council.

9. By way of derogation from the procedure laid down in Articles 258 and 259, the Commission and any Member State may bring the matter directly before the Court of Justice of the European Union if it considers that another Member State is making improper use of the powers provided for in this Article.

10. The harmonisation measures referred to above shall, in appropriate cases, include a safeguard clause authorising the Member States to take, for one or more of the non-economic reasons referred to in Article 36, provisional measures subject to a Union control procedure.

***

In Article 2, point 80 and point 81 of the Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) the IGC 2007 renumbered and amended Article 95 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC). Here are the specific amendments (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/69):

APPROXIMATION OF LAWS

80) The order of Articles 94 and 95 shall be reversed. Article 94 shall be renumbered 95 and Article 95 shall be renumbered 94.

81) Article 95, renumbered 94, shall be amended as follows:

(a) at the beginning of paragraph 1, the words ‘By way of derogation from Article 94 and’ shall be deleted;

(b) at the beginning of paragraph 4, the words ‘If, after the adoption by the Council or by the Commission of a harmonisation measure,’ shall be replaced by ‘If, after the adoption of a harmonisation measure by the European Parliament and the Council, by the Council or by the Commission,’;

(c) at the beginning of paragraph 5, the words ‘Moreover, without prejudice to paragraph 4, if, after the adoption by the Council or by the Commission of a harmonisation measure,’ shall be replaced by ‘Moreover, without prejudice to paragraph 4, if, after the adoption of a harmonisation measure by the European Parliament and the Council, by the Council or by the Commission,’;

d) in paragraph 10, the words ‘Community control procedure’ shall be replaced by ‘Union
control procedure’.

***

The TFEU table of equivalences confirms that Article 95 TEC first became Article 94 TFEU (ToL) in the original Treaty of Lisbon, and it tells us that it was later renumbered Article 114 TFEU in the consolidated version (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/211).

***

The current Article 95 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) is found under Title VI ‘Common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of laws’, Chapter 3 ‘Approximation of laws’, in the latest consolidated version of the treaties in force (OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/79–81).

The main difference between the proposed TFEU Article 114 and the current Article 95 TEC is that the normal or ordinary procedures for approximation (harmonisation) of laws have been lifted on top, to stand at the beginning of Chapter 3. The sensitive areas, mentioned in the second paragraph, requiring unanimity, are dealt with in the following provision, Article 115 TFEU, of the amending treaty.

Although Article 114 is long-winded, the new order feels like an improvement.

The other differences, specific and horizontal, are technical or terminological. In addition, the monster size of the Article made me refrain from reproducing it here for comparison, but the interested reader can look up the current Article 95 TEC in the consolidated version.

***

We have seen that 95 TEC in force and 114 TFEU are the same, in substance, with minor differences in wording.

Still, for the sake of systematic comparison, we look at the arcana of the Article during the intervening treaty reform stages.

First, we turn to the European Convention, the closest thing to a constituent assembly EU citizens have had. The Article in question is located in Part III ‘The policies and functioning of the Union’, Title III ‘Internal policies and action’, Chapter I ‘Internal market’, Section 7 ‘Approximation of legislation’.

Article III-65 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was still the second Article of Section 7. The terminology of the draft Constitution differed from the TEC, the draft Article III-65 naturally referred to Articles differently numbered, and it was sprinkled with small changes in wording. But the substance remained unchanged. See OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/38–39.

***

In the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe the provisions on approximation (harmonisation) were located in Part III ‘The policies and functioning of the Union’, Title III ‘Internal policies and action’, Chapter I ‘Internal market’, Section 7 ‘Common provisions’.

The IGC 2004 lifted Article III-172 to the top of Section 7, renumbered the referrals to other provisions, and made some minimal adjustments to the draft text.

In the third paragraph the IGC 2004 showed concern for EU citizens by strengthening the wording on a high level of protection. ‘Will take’ and ‘will also seek’ became ‘shall take’ and ‘shall also seek’, but this potentially tougher standard and only substantial change lapsed when the Lisbon Treaty let the current TEC wording stand.

In the fourth and the fifth paragraph the IGC 2004 wanted to clarify the wording with regard to the legal instruments, so they were expressed with a few words added: ‘a European law or framework law or by means of a European regulation of the Commission’, but since the Treaty of Lisbon rejected the more developed terminology concerning legal acts as part of the ‘constitutional concept’, the IGC 2007 used its own, adapted wording.

Article III-172 is found in OJ 16.12.2004 C 310/73–75.

***

What has been said about Article 114 TFEU, with shifted position, but the wording practically unchanged from the current Article 95 TEC?


United Kingdom

Professor Steve Peers covered the Treaty of Lisbon in a number of Statewatch Analyses. ‘EU Reform Treaty Analysis no. 3.3: Revised text of Part Three, Titles I to VI of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC): Internal Market and competition’ (Version 2, 23 October 2007) includes the current Title VI Common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of laws.

Peers indicated the changing numbering of Article 95 TEC, 94 TFEU (ToL), to be renumbered Article 114 TFEU in the consolidated version, and highlighted the changes, but he added no comment (pages 29–30).

The analysis 3.3 and other useful Statewatch analyses are available through:

http://www.statewatch.org/euconstitution.htm


***

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) offers a convenient source of brief annotations on Lisbon Treaty amendments in ‘A comparative table of the current EC and EU treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon’ (Command Paper 7311, published 21 January 2008). It offers the following comment on Article 114 TFEU, Article 94 TFEU (ToL) in the original Lisbon Treaty (page 12):

“In substance the same as Article 95 TEC.”

The FCO comparative table is available at:

http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm73/7311/7311.asp

***

The UK House of Commons Library Research Paper 07/86 ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: amendments to the Treaty establishing the European Community’ (published 6 December 2007) discussed the approximation of internal market laws on page 60 (under the heading ‘2. Taxation’).

The Research Paper commented briefly on the harmonisation of internal market laws, before moving on to tax harmonisation:

“Articles 94–97 (Constitution Articles III-172 – III-176) are on the approximation of internal market laws. The general aims are unchanged and the Council will adopt measures for the approximation of laws, regulations or administrative provisions of the Member States that directly affect the internal market. The out-dated term “common market” is removed and replaced with “internal market”.”

The Library Research Paper 07/86 is available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp2007/rp07-086.pdf

***

The House of Lords European Union Committee report ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment, Volume I: Report’ (HL Paper 62-I, published 13 March 2008) is a valuable resource on the Treaty of Lisbon, but I found no reference to Article 114 TFEU (Article 95 TEC or Article 94 ToL).

The report is accessible at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeucom/62/62.pdf


***

Sweden

The consultation paper ’Lissabonfördraget’ is still valuable as a description of the Lisbon Treaty amendments, and it is available at:

http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/09/49/81/107aa077.pdf

The Swedish government’s draft ratification bill ‘Lagrådsremiss – Lissabonfördraget’, was published 29 May 2008 and sent to the Council on Legislation (Lagrådet) for an expert opinion. The draft deals with the EU’s internal policy areas in Chapter 23 ‘Unionens interna åtgärder’, and section 23.1 presents the internal market (Inre marknaden), on pages 175 to 181.

The Swedish government presents a short background paragraph on the harmonisation of laws in the internal market (page 176):

”Artiklarna 94–97 i EG-fördraget återger möjligheten att harmonisera lagstiftningen på den inre marknaden. Det finns en stor volym sekundärrätt med utgångspunkt i artikel 95 i EG-fördraget samt en omfattande praxis på området. Möjligheten till harmonisering av medlemsstaternas lagar och författningar är en förutsättning för den inre marknadens bibehållande och fortsatta funktion.”

The government later remarks on the essentially unchanged nature of most internal market provisions.


The draft bill ‘Lagrådsremiss – Lissabonfördraget’ can be downloaded through:

http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/5676/a/106277

***

Finland

The Finnish ratification bill, ‘Hallituksen esitys Eduskunnalle Euroopan unionista tehdyn sopimuksen ja Euroopan yhteisön perustamissopimuksen muuttamisesta tehdyn Lissabonin sopimuksen hyväksymisestä ja laiksi sen lainsäädännön alaan kuuluvien määräysten voimaansaattamisesta’ (HE 23/2008 vp), under the heading Approximation of laws (Lainsäädännön lähentäminen), offers a brief description of Chapter 3 and of Article 94 TFEU (ToL), renumbered Article 114 TFEU (page 208):

”Luku sisältää määräykset unionin toimivallasta sisämarkkinoita toteutettaessa sekä yhdenmukaistamistoimenpiteisiin sovellettavasta päätöksentekomenettelystä. Luvussa määrätään myös jäsenvaltioiden toimivallasta yhdenmukaistamistoimenpiteiden toteuttamisen jälkeen. Määräykset vastaavat pääpiirteissään nykyisen EY-sopimuksen kolmannen osan VI osaston 3 luvun määräyksiä. Määräyksiin on tehty eräitä muutoksia päätöksentekomenettelyiden osalta sekä eräitä
sanamuotoja koskevia ja teknisiä tarkistuksia.

94 artiklassa (uusi 114 artikla) määrätään sisämarkkinoiden toteuttamista ja toimintaa koskevista toimenpiteistä jäsenvaltioiden lainsäädäntöjen yhdenmukaistamiseksi. Artikla vastaa säädösinstrumenttien yksilöintiä lukuun ottamatta perustuslakisopimuksen III-172 artiklaa ja korvaa SEY 95 artiklan seuraavasti muutettuna. SEUT 94 artiklan 4 ja 5 kohtaan lisätään viittaukset Euroopan parlamenttiin yhtenä lainsäätäjänä.”

The Finnish ratification bill is available at:

http://www.finlex.fi/fi/esitykset/he/2008/20080023.pdf


The Swedish language version of the ratification bill ‘Regeringens proposition till Riksdagen med förslag om godkännande av Lissabonfördraget om ändring av fördraget om Europeiska unionen och fördraget om upprättandet av Europeiska gemenskapen och till lag om sättande i kraft av de bestämmelser i fördraget som hör till området för lagstiftningen’ (RP 23/2008 rd), makes the same remarks under ’Tillnärmning av lagstiftning’ on Chapter 3 and Article 94 TFEU (ToL), the future Article 114 TFEU, on page 211:

”Kapitlet innehåller bestämmelser om unionens befogenheter när den inre marknaden upprättas samt om det beslutsförfarande som ska tillämpas på harmoniseringsåtgärder. I kapitlet anges också medlemsstaternas befogenheter efter vidtagandet av harmoniseringsåtgärder. Bestämmelserna motsvarar i stora drag avdelning VI kapitel 3 i det nuvarande EG-fördragets tredje del. I bestämmelserna har företagits vissa ändringar i fråga om beslutsförfarandena samt vissa tekniska ändringar som gäller ordalydelser.

I artikel 94 (blivande artikel 114) bestäms om åtgärder för upprättande av den inre marknaden och för dess funktion för att harmonisera lagstiftningen i medlemsstaterna. Artikeln motsvarar med undantag av individualiseringen av rättsaktsinstrumenten artikel III-172 i det konstitutionella fördraget och ersätter artikel 95 i EG-fördraget med följande ändringar. Till artikel 94.4 och 94.5 i EUF-fördraget fogas hänvisningar till Europaparlamentet som en lagstiftare.”

The ratification bill in Swedish can be accessed at:

http://www.finlex.fi/sv/esitykset/he/2008/20080023.pdf

***

Before I leave the reader to study the substance of Article 114 TFEU, to say nothing about the substantive harmonisation measures, I would like to point out the scope of the Article.

First, the objectives mentioned at the beginning of this article merit a glance at Article 26 TFEU (OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/59, the consolidated version):

TITLE I
THE INTERNAL MARKET

Article 26 TFEU
(ex Article 14 TEC)

1. The Union shall adopt measures with the aim of establishing or ensuring the functioning of the internal market, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaties.

2. The internal market shall comprise an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties.

3. The Council, on a proposal from the Commission, shall determine the guidelines and conditions necessary to ensure balanced progress in all the sectors concerned.

***

The second important feature is the delimitation of the scope, in paragraph 2. Fiscal (tax) provisions, those relating to the free movement of persons and those relating to the rights and interests of employed persons are expressly excluded.



Ralf Grahn