Bulgaria sent to European Court for failing to implement rules on e-passports and e-residence permits

The European Commission decided on November 17 to refer Bulgaria to the EU Court of Justice for non-implementation of the obligation to create a single point of contact to ensure the mandatory exchange of information under EU document security legislation.

The establishment of such contact points is mandatory and should allow for the exchange of information necessary to access the fingerprint images stored on e-passports and e-residence permits for third-country nationals, meaning citizens of non-EU countries.

The exchange of certificates through single points of contact prevents unauthorised reading of the biometric features stored digitally in the documents and ensures that EU countries can securely access information on the chips contained in all biometric passports, travel documents and residence permits issued by other EU member states.

“Bulgaria has not implemented this important part of the EU document security legislation and thereby prevents other member states from securely accessing and verifying the fingerprints stored on the chips in Bulgarian passports,” the European Commission said.

All Single Points of Contact should have been operational by May 20 2012.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice in January 2014 and a reasoned opinion to the Bulgarian authorities in April 2015 and, as Bulgaria has still not implemented the relevant provisions, decided on November 17 to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU.

In another decision in the EC’s November 2016 infringements package, the Commission called on Bulgaria, as well as three other EU countries – one of them the UK, which has voted to leave the EU, to fully transpose the EU Directive on safety of offshore oil and gas operations

The European Commission has requested Bulgaria, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom to ensure the full transposition of the  2013 Offshore Safety Directive.

The EU has put in place a set of rules to help prevent accidents as well as respond promptly and efficiently should such accidents occur.

EU countries must ensure that companies – to which they grant a license for exploration or production – are well financed and have the necessary technical expertise, and that they keep resources at hand in order to put them into operation when necessary.

Companies are also fully liable for environmental damages caused to protected species and natural habitats.

The Directive had to be transposed into national law by July 19 2015.

On November 17 2016, the Commission sent reasoned opinions to Bulgaria, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom as the Commission identified gaps in the national legislation which transposes the Directive. The four EU countries now have two months to comply with their obligations; otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU.

The European Commission also said that it had sent a reasoned opinion requesting Bulgaria to enact EU rules on financial reporting.

A 013 Accounting Directive – which repeals two Council Directives from 1978 and 1983 – aims to reduce the administrative burden for small companies and improve the quality and comparability of the information disclosed in financial reports.

It sets out EU-wide rules on annual financial statements, consolidated financial statements and related reports of certain types of undertakings.

EU countries had to enact these rules in national law by July 20 2015.

Having missed the original deadline, Bulgaria was sent a letter of formal notice from the European Commission in September 2015.

The November 17 2016 request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If Bulgaria fails to act within two months, the country may be referred to the EU Court of Justice.



The Sofia Globe staff

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