“There is no doubt we all are committed to seeing EU law put into practice, because this is essential for delivering results for citizens and protecting their rights and freedoms,” said Leo Brincat, the Member of the Court.
Mr Brincat was chairing the ECA’s conference on putting EU law into practice, held yesterday at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels. The aim of the conference was to engage with stakeholders from other EU bodies and Member States, hear their views on the state of play in and current challenges facing the implementation of EU law, as well as seeking the way forward and identifying the opportunities ahead. The speakers discussed in particular the need for transparency, accountability and audit.
“The implementation of EU law by Member States is pivotal to the success and effectiveness of many EU policies. I hope this conference will add value to the European project itself at what is understandably a very timely moment,” added Mr Brincat.
This was the first time the ECA, as the guardian of the EU’s finances, has looked in a focused manner and from a cross-cutting perspective at a topic related to the application of EU law. The conference followed up on the ECA’s landscape review on putting EU law into practice, published earlier this month, in which the auditors identified opportunities for the Commission to further strengthen its oversight of the way EU law is applied in the Member States. It gathered speakers and participants from the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Court of Justice, the European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, as well as Member States’ permanent representations to the EU, supreme audit institutions and academia.
MEP Cecilia Wikström, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, stressed that citizens have a right to be informed about EU law and that EU institutions should be properly informing them of their rights across all Member States.
Daniel Calleja Crespo, the Commission’s Director-General for environment, underlined the need for a holistic approach to ensuring the effective application of EU law in Member States, encompassing swift pursuit of infringement proceedings in systemic cases, but also support for Member States’ enforcement, for example through compliance assurance initiatives, access to justice at national level and the environmental implementation review.
The ECA regularly checks whether Member States comply with EU law, with compliance being a condition for receiving payments from the EU budget. Moreover, the auditors may also examine how the European Commission performs and accounts for its oversight activities.