Failure to comply with a broad range of regulations


Some Government departments have been slower than others in implementing EU directives. Directives yet to be implemented here cover everything from rules for disposing of vehicles to conditions for zoo animals,writes Alison Healy.

The worst offender is the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, which has failed to implement a total of 42 directives.

The next worst offender is the Department of Transport, which has to bring 20 directives into force.

This is followed by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, which has 17 directives awaiting implementation

A European Commission spokesman said the Commission "deems it urgent that member-states bring legislation into force, as expected".

Of the 42 directives at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the deadline for 12 has passed, either in full or in part. The Department expects that 17 of these will have been implemented by the end of the year.

The Tanáiste, Ms Harney, told the Dáil earlier this month she was satisfied that her department was giving due priority to the implementation of the directives "in light of the available resources".

The European Commission has highlighted delays with four of these directives. It has issued a letter of "formal notice" in two cases and a "reasoned opinion" in two others. A formal notice seeks an update on why the deadline has not been met while a reasoned opinion is a final written warning before the European Court of Justice takes over.

The EU Commission is already taking Ireland to the Court of Justice over its failure to implement new safety rules on transportable pressure equipment. The regulations apply to equipment such as cylinders, drums and tanks.

This State should have adopted the two necessary pieces of legislation by December 1st, 2000, and July 1st, 2001.

A Commission spokesman said Ireland had indicated that it was still preparing the necessary measures, "24 and 18 months after the required dates of implementation".

Last week, the EU Commission also agreed to send a "reasoned opinion" to Ireland for failing to bring in legislation which would improve the safety and environmental performance of heavy commercial vehicles. The directive should have been transposed into national law by August. When implemented, it will supplement the annual roadworthiness test with random roadside inspections.

Four directives await implementation through the Department of Finance.

They include a directive on reorganising and winding up credit institutions and a directive on the recovery of claims involving the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund. Other directives concern VAT on invoicing and electronic services and may be transposed into Irish law through the 2003 Finance Bill.

The Department of Education has one outstanding directive. It provides for a mechanism to recognise professional qualifications and will be transposed into Irish law "in the near future", a spokesman said.

Five directives await implementation at the Department of Justice. Deadlines have already passed on two directives.

One involves allowing lawyers to practise on a permanent basis in other member-states, while the other involves protecting the rights of people where the processing of personal data is concerned. This carried a deadline of October, 1998, but a Department spokeswoman said existing data protection law here already complied with much of the directive.

Other directives to be passed into Irish law involve the equal treatment of people irrespective of race or ethnicity and the minimum standards for giving temporary protection to displaced people.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs has one outstanding directive. The directive on safeguarding people's supplementary pension rights when they move within the EU was due to be implemented by EU states by last January.

The Department of Agriculture has yet to transpose what it describes as "2½" directives into Irish law.

A directive concerning animal nutrition had a September 1st deadline, while a directive involving the placing of plant products on the market should have been implemented before May 2002.

A third complex directive on plant species and genetically modified organisms should have been in place by December 1999 but one final piece of legislation has yet to be passed. A Department spokeswoman said half of this directive had been transposed into Irish law.

Six directives await national legislation through the Department of the Environment. The Commission has already highlighted its concern with delays in introducing two directives. One involves the keeping of wild animals in zoos, and the other concerns the introduction of a system for disposing of vehicles. Both should have been implemented before April 2002.

A Department spokesman said progress was being made on these issues.

The Department of Health has failed to implement five directives, including one covering the presentation and sale of tobacco products.

The Department told The Irish Times that a Statutory Instrument to transpose the directive will be introduced sometime next year.

A 2001 directive concerning the regulations of clinical trials on medical products for human use has to be implemented by May of 2004.

A directive covering food additives other than colours and sweeteners, and which should have been implemented in 2001, will be implemented shortly, the Department said.