Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 November 2005

4:00 pm

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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Question 7: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount of outstanding EU legislation awaiting transposition into Irish law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33301/05]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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The Government attaches priority to the transposition of EU legislation into Irish law. My colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for European Affairs, Deputy Treacy, chairs an interdepartmental committee which meets regularly and has as one of its functions the monitoring of this transposition. The Government is committed to attaining the agreed transposition target of 1.5% as soon as possible.

The latest figures on transpositions are contained in the EU internal market scoreboard for July 2005. This shows the record of each member state in transposing internal market directives into national law. Ireland is in 12th position, with a transposition deficit of 1.6%, just outside the transposition target. A total of 11 member states have met the target, with deficits ranging from 0.8% to 1.4%. Among the 25 member states, the highest transposition deficit stands at 4.1%, while the transposition deficit across the European Union as a whole is 1.9%.

The next scoreboard will be published in January 2006. As of 1 November, 30 directives have not yet been transposed or are only partially transposed into national law.

Photo of Bernard AllenBernard Allen (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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Does the Minister agree that the transposition delays are unacceptable?

I ask him to confirm that there are three directives with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, dating back to 2001, that have not been transposed and that four infringement proceedings have now been served on the Department. I also ask the Minister to confirm that there were seven directives awaiting transposition last June. Can he tell me whether any of these have been transposed since then?

Since 1997 the Department of Education and Science has received two warnings arising from failure to transpose directives on time. Can the Minister confirm that there are 21 directives awaiting transposition in the Department of Agriculture and Food, one of which is late? In the Department of Transport, Directive 2002 of 11 March 2002 on working times for road hauliers, was not enacted into law by the deadline of 25 March.

Why does the Government delay and stall its obligations to transpose EU directives in a timely manner? Does the Minister agree, despite what he just said about league tables and so forth, that this failure places Ireland in a very bad light on the European stage, particularly given the threat of infringement proceedings against the State?

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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Between 2000 and 2005, Ireland was supposed to transpose 1068 directives and has, to date, transposed 1045, which is not a bad record. In fact, if one looks at the figures for when this Government came into office, we are now three times better than we were at that time, in terms of the percentage. In 1997, the transposition deficit figure was 5.4%, which was probably one of the worst in the EU. We are now just ahead of the average for the EU 25 of 1.9%. We are better than the EU 15 average of 2.1% and the EU 10 average of 1.1.7%.

At the moment there are 30 directive transpositions outstanding. There are nine in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and five overdue in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, with two further directives partially transposed. There are five outstanding in the Department of Transport, four in the Department of Health and Children, three in the Department of Agriculture and Food and one in the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. The record is quite good and the figures stack up. We are, through the interdepartmental group chaired by the Minister of State, Deputy Treacy, constantly exhorting our colleagues to ensure that these directives are transposed in a timely manner. The only action being taken against the State at the moment relates to alleged inaccuracies. It does not relate to a failure to transpose EU legislation but to the way in which it was transposed. A number of actions are being taken across Departments. However, they are not significant compared with some other countries that are way behind us.