Response from EU Commission, to question regarding why EU took so long (six years) to bring an action against Ireland for failing to implement Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora
Dear Ms Glover,
We refer to your e-mail of 29 September 2021, which was registered on the 3 October 2021 under reference number GestDem 2021/5861.
You request access to documents which are relate to an ongoing infringement procedure INF2015/2006 against Ireland.
You are asking for communications leading to a decision to delay enforcement action against Ireland in this case.
We regret to inform you that the Commission does not hold any documents that would correspond to the description given in your application. There was no decision taken to delay the case.
An infringement procedure consists of different formal steps, which have to be taken before deciding to refer a case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The Commission initiated the infringement case against Ireland for the failure to fully implement Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora by sending a letter of formal notice in February 2015.
After analysing the response of the Irish authorities, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion in May 2016 which was
followed by an additional reasoned opinion in November 2018.
The objective of an infringement procedure is primarily to solve an identified problem in implementing or applying Union law toether with the Member State concerned in a structured way.
If the Commission comes to the conclusion that a Member State is not able to remedy the situation in a reasonable period of time, a case may be taken to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The Commission took that decision in the present case in July 2020. In July 2021 the court application was lodged.
It also has to be noted that this case against Ireland is part of a broader exercise against several Member States, which also did not fully comply with these requirements of the Habitats Directive. Some of these infringement cases were already referred to the CJEU.
In order to strengthen its argumentation in the present case the Commission waited for the judgments in its infringement case against Portugal and Greece on similar issues as in the present case before taking further procedural steps.
As specified in Article 2(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, the right of access as defined in that regulation applies only to existing documents in the possession of the institution. Given that no such documents, corresponding to the description given in your application, are held by the Commission, the Commission is not in a position to fulfil your request.
In accordance with Article 7(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, you are entitled to make a confirmatory application requesting the Commission to review this position.
Such a confirmatory application should be addressed within 15 working days upon receipt of this letter to the Secretariat-General of the Commission at the following address:
Management & Access to Documents
(SG.C.1) BERL 7/076