The European Commission said on July 10 that it opened five new infringement proceedings against Bulgaria, as part of its monthly package of infringement decisions.
The biggest issue – and one that involves 17 other EU member states in addition to Bulgaria – concerns the Commission’s efforts to bring about common airspace management. The EC asked the countries to “improve their Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), a common airspace arranged around traffic flows rather than state boundaries.”
“We have to finally overcome national borders in the European airspace. FABs are a necessary, vital component of the Single European Sky. Right now these common airspaces exist only on paper; they are formally established but not yet functional. I urge Member States to step up their ambitions and push forward the implementation of the Single Sky,” transport commissioner Siim Kallas said.
Bulgaria is part of the Danube FAB, together with Romania. With today’s letters of formal notice the Commission asks Member States to act in order to optimise the implementation of FABs and air navigation services.
Separately, the EC has sent Bulgaria four reasoned opinions – the second stage of infringement procedures that the EC can launch against member states, which gives Bulgaria two months to inform the Commission of the measures taken to address the issue. Failure to respond could lead to the EC referring the cases to the European Court of Justice.
The first reasoned opinion requires Bulgaria (alongside 11 other member states) to notify full implementation of the cross-border healthcare directive, which clarifies patients’ rights to choose to receive healthcare in another member state and claim reimbursement for it at home.
In Bulgaria’s case, the directive has been only partially implemented in national law, despite being required to do so by October 2013.
Bulgaria was also asked to improve protection for citizens from fine dust (PM10) pollution. The most recent air quality report, published by the European Environment Agency in October 2013, named Bulgaria as the country with the highest reported daily limit value of PM10.
Citizens in all six zones and agglomerations in Bulgaria have been exposed to excessive levels of PM10 since at least 2007, the EC said.
The third reasoned opinion concerns Bulgaria’s failure to implement the consumer rights directive, which should have been transposed into national law by June 2014.
“The Consumer Rights Directive contains a set of key rights that have boosted consumer protection across the EU. […] This is even more important in countries in which – according to the latest Consumer Scoreboard – awareness of consumer rights is low. Bulgaria is among eight EU countries in which this is the case which is why the Commission is currently running a Consumer Rights Campaign to improve consumers’ awareness of their rights,” the EC said.
Finally, Bulgaria was asked to ensure full compliance with the EU’s Fisheries Control Regulation, in particular the obligations to ensure the direct electronic exchange of relevant fisheries information with other Member States.
(Photo: Sébastien Bertrand)