Commission proposes a fine and refers Romania to the Court of Justice of the EU over failure to transpose EU rules on sulphur

The practical challenges faced when it comes to enforcing sulphur regulations pale in comparison to the real elephants in the room: Governments within the union who don't attempt to enforce or even transpose the Directives into national law. The Commission is now cracking down on Romania, and it will be interesting to see how the warnings given to France for failure to enforce the Sulphur regulations will be followed up.  
- Anna Larsson, Chair, The Trident Alliance

Press release from the EC:
17 months after the deadline for transposition, Romania has not transposed EU rules on the sulphur content of marine fuels into its national legislation. The Commission is asking the Court of Justice of the EU to impose a fine. The Commission is proposing a daily fine of EUR 38,042.6, which would be paid from the date of the Court ruling until Romania fully transposes the obligations of the Directives into national law. This penalty, proposed by the Commission under the Lisbon Treaty, takes into account the seriousness of the infringement, its duration and the deterrent effect reflecting the ability to pay of the Member State. The final decision on the penalty rests with the Court which however cannot exceed the amount specified by the Commission.

The sulphur legislation aims to reduce the effects of air pollution from sulphur dioxide and particulate matter. Sulphur dioxide is a pollutant mainly emitted by ships. As well as harming human health, the gas damages the environment and contributes to acid rain. Without the Sulphur Directive(Directive 2012/33/EU), emissions from shipping would soon surpass combined emissions from all land-based sources. Air pollution from docked ships is a major concern for many cities with ports in their efforts to meet the Union’s air quality limit values.

Romania acknowledged that it has not transposed the Directive on the sulphur content of marine fuels (Directive 2012/33/EU), legislation that was due to be on national statute books by 18 June 2014.

Directive 2012/33/EU amended Council Directive 1999/32/EC of 26 April 1999 relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels laying down the maximum permitted sulphur content of heavy fuel oil, gas oil, marine gas oil and marine diesel oil used in the Union. The amendments became necessary to align EU legislation with international standards agreed under at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the UN agency responsible for shipping.

Financial sanctions
Under the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, if Member States fail to transpose EU legislation into national law within the required deadline, the Commission may ask the Court to impose financial sanctions. The daily penalty payment is calculated based on a formula, where the following elements are multiplied:

– seriousness factor;

– duration of the infringement;

– “n” factor (which varies between Member States and takes into account their GDP);

– a flat-rate amount, which currently is set at EUR 670 per day.

In case the transposition remains incomplete and the Court of Justice of the EU confirms the Commission’s view, the daily penalty would have to be paid from the date of the judgment or a later date set by the Court until the transposition is complete. The final amount of the daily penalty will be decided by the Court, but cannot exceed the Commission’s proposal.