The European Commission strikes again…

Today (14 March), the European Commission sent a "reasoned opinion", the second stage of the infringement procedure, requesting the UK “to amend its rules on local real estate taxes for students, on the basis that they discriminate against students subject to UK council taxes but studying in another Member State.” According to the Commission the UK's community taxes legislation “discriminate against students living in the UK who choose to undertake their studies elsewhere in the EU, and to restrict their right to move and reside freely within the EU as provided by Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.” Therefore, the Commission believes, the UK has infringed EU law on free movement of people.

Consequently, the UK has two months to amend its legislation, complying with the Commission demands, otherwise the Commission may refer the issue to the ECJ.

The Commission also requested the UK, in the form of “reasoned opinion”, to communicate national implementing measures regarding Common Safety Indicators for railways. Under the Directive on safety on the Community's railways, member states are required to collect information on Common Safety Indicators. The Commission Directive 2009/149/EC amended this Directive as regards Common Safety Indicators and common methods to calculate accident costs. According to the Commission the UK has failed to inform the Commission of all the measures implementing the abovementioned directive.

Hence, the UK has two months to comply with the “reasoned opinion” and to notify to the Commission the measures it has taken to implement the Directive, failing this, the Commission refer the case to the ECJ.

The ECJ may fine the UK if it fails to bring national legislation into line with EU legislation.

3 thoughts on “The European Commission strikes again…

  1. Anne Palmer

    In our local paper 24th June 2011 “Students win tuition fees court hearing”. The Challenge is being brought on the grounds that the rise-agreed by MP’s in the Commons in December-contravenes Human Rights law because it could discriminate against poorer students, and that the Government has failed to give due regards to promoting equality of opportunity under discrimination law.
    I wish Phil Shiner of the legal firm Public Interest Lawers every success. Our Students have been let down very badly by our Members of Parliament.

  2. Anne Palmer

    According to the above,
    Under the UK’s community taxes legislation, students who reside in the UK and decide to pursue their education in England or Wales are entitled to a discount in community real estate taxes. However, this discount is not granted to students subject to tax in the UK but studying in another Member State.
    The Commission considers that these rules discriminate against students living in the UK who choose to undertake their studies elsewhere in the EU, and to restrict their right to move and reside freely within the EU as provided by Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.Such discriminatory treatment of students also undermines EU efforts to promote student mobility between Member States such as distance learning programmes.
    This, I think, also underlines my thoughts in my first contribution which highlights what I see as discrimination re English students.

  3. Anne Palmer

    In an effort to prevent further English Student Protests on the Streets of London, I question why English Students are being deliberately discriminated against by our Government when they should be encouraging our youths to go on to further their education and work for Degrees on their chosen subject.
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is one Country as far the EU is concerned and Treaties are ratified to that effect. Why then, under the laws of the United Kingdom and EU are University Fees discriminatory one to the other within the United Kingdom? Each of the four parts, Nations of and/or Countries, were as one for the purpose of ratification of the then European Economic Community Treaty of Rome in 1972, and is still classed as one whole in the European Union of 2011 yet one Country within that Union is discriminated against?
    As far as the EU is concerned Scotland is a REGION of the EU, as is Wales and Northern Ireland, England remains as one although it might have been 9 separate EU Regions. I am now looking at the Laws regarding Discrimination of Nationality and also Non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all in the EU, and I mustn’t forget the new “Equality Act ” either.
    (ECHR= The Protocol entered into force on 1 April 2005 and has (As of July 2009) been ratified by 17 member states. Several member states — namely Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom Have not signed the protocol. The United Kingdom Government has declined to sign Protocol 12 on the basis that they believe the wording of protocol is too wide and would result in a flood of new cases testing the extent of the new provision.
    Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and ENGLAND are all Nations and Countries in their own RIGHT. Is it discrimination re nationality to charge different rates for different Nationalities/Countries? I am aware that UK Ministers say the current position is particularly unfair because the EU rules do not apply within states”. There seems to be nothing though to stop a sovereign Government from making sure the English students have exactly the same financial equality (advantage) as the other nations and country’s in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    Students from other EU nations must be treated the same as students within the nation. But, due to the principle of subsidiarity, terms and conditions may vary within a member state. That is why students from England at Scottish Universities can be treated differently to students from, say, France.
    Perhaps or unless of course the Welsh University is strictly/exclusively for those that live or born in Wales, ditto Scotland which I doubt would be allowed.
    However, as the Laws of the UK are supposed to be “fair” for all and I am sure that our Government would want English students to enjoy the same conditions as those from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, perhaps it is time to change the law once again?
    Proof re Scotland as a nation, (from EU Web-site) “As cultural communities, Catalonia and Scotland are conventionally and more accurately identified as nations, rather than regions. The term ‘region’ is used here partly for the sake of brevity and consistency, partly in the governmental sense elaborated earlier in the paper, and partly in recognition of the fact that as territorial units they do not (yet) have independent statehood. There is no intention to cast doubt on their respective claims to nationhood”.


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