Ireland is one of 15 EU countries facing infringement procedures from the European Commission for failing to meet a deadline for transposing an EU directive on the protection of whistleblowers.
The commission has issued a reasoned opinion against the 15 after they missed the 17 December 2021 deadline for transferring the directive into national law.
The Government has introduced draft legislation on the issue, which is currently going through the Oireachtas.
The member states concerned have two months to reply to the commission. If it is not satisfied, it can refer countries to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The move announced today (15 July) was part of the commission’s latest round of infringement procedures launched against EU member states.
The commission has also warned four countries – including Ireland – that they have “incorrectly transposed” certain provisions of a directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, and child pornography.
It has sent letters of formal notice to the four, giving them two months to address its concerns, after which the commission could issue a reasoned opinion.
Ireland has also been asked to bring its legislation on air quality fully in line with EU rules, as the commission believes Ireland has not correctly transposed certain requirements of the Air Quality Directive.
Late transposition of directives
The actions came as the commission released a report showing that there were 59 EU infringement cases open against Ireland at the end of 2021.
Of these, 30 were linked to the late transposition of EU directives into national law, while 22 were for the incorrect transposition or application of directives. Seven were related to infringements of EU regulations or treaties.
The commission’s Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of EU Law shows that it opened 847 new infringement cases last year, compared with an average of 809 over the five preceding years.
Two-thirds of these were launched for late transposition of EU directives, while one-third were linked to the wrongful application of EU law or non-conformity of national rules with EU law.
Only 20 of these were against Ireland – with only Denmark recording fewer new cases.
The EU body closed 704 infringement cases during the year.
Rights cases hit record levels
In 31 cases, the commission decided to refer a member state to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). One-third of these cases concerned the quality of air or drinking water, or the treatment of waste-water.
While the number of cases launched for late transposition of directives was down compared with 2020, the commission said that the number of new cases on justice, fundamental rights and consumers was at a record high compared to previous years.
The commission opened cases against states for failing to comply with EU rules to fight racism and xenophobia, and launched cases against Hungary and Poland to protect the right to non-discrimination of LGTBIQ people.
The commission also pursued cases against Poland to protect judicial independence.