This report takes into account all transposition notifications made by 10 December 2020 for directives with a transposition deadline on or before 30 November 2020. As of that date, 1027 directives and 5409 regulations were in force to ensure the functioning of the Single Market. All comparisons are made with the figures for the last reporting date, 10 December 2019, when the UK was still a Member State of the European Union. This should be kept in mind while reading the present report.
Single Market directives can only achieve their intended effects if they are completely and correctly transposed into Member States’ national legislation by the deadline set out in these directives.
Transposition monitoring helps to make the Single Market work, ensuring that Single Market rules are implemented properly in the Member States.
Such monitoring shows the transposition deficit – the gap between the number of Single Market directives adopted by the EU and the number of directives transposed by the Member States – and the conformity deficit (the percentage of those directives incorrectly transposed).
It highlights what Member States are doing to ensure that Single Market law is implemented correctly and encourages them to improve their performance.
Transposition and the Single Market – why does it matter?
Incorrect transposition, implementation and application of EU rules creates barriers and obstacles to a smooth functioning of the Single Market. Delays or gaps in transposition deprive citizens and businesses of the benefits stemming from a common rulebook, sometimes even for years.
The December 2016 Communication on EU Law: Better results through better application pointed to the need to strengthen compliance assessment (effective assessment of the completeness and conformity of national measures implementing EU law). It announced the adjustment of the Commission’s practice in cases brought to the Court of Justice under Article 260(3) TFEU. In future, the Commission will systematically ask the Court to impose a lump sum as well as a periodic penalty payment on Member States that do not communicate their transposition measures. In this way, the Commission has aligned its approach to cases where Member States fail to transpose EU law on time with the approach already applied to other infringement cases entailing financial sanctions.
Transposing EU law accurately and in a timely way, refraining from unjustified ‘gold plating’ and ensuring a level playing field is the responsibility of Member States. The Commission has the task of assisting Member States in transposing EU law correctly, fully and on time, thus preventing the creation of new barriers to the Single Market. Therefore, the March 2020 Long-term action plan for better implementation and enforcement of single market rules (the so-called Enforcement action plan) highlights that the Single Market is built on EU law and is at the heart of the European project. It has fuelled economic growth and has made the life easier for European consumers and businesses. Despite this, timely and correct transposition of Single Market rules remains a challenge for Member States.
With its judgment of 8 July 2019 in Case C-543/17, Commission v Belgium, the Court of Justice clarified the scope of Article 260(3) TFEU by stating that its sanction mechanism may also be applied in case of a partial failure to adopt and to communicate the transposition measures. In this context, the Court refers to the obligation of the Member States not only to notify transposition measures as such, but also to supply sufficiently clear and precise information as to which provisions of national law transpose which provisions of a directive (for further information on the outcome of the judgment in Case C-543/17, see in ‘More information’).
- Five Member States have improved their overall transposition performance since December 2019 (Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia and France) and 8 Member States have maintained it (Greece, Spain, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Finland). The performance of the remaining 14 Member States has deteriorated.
- The average transposition deficit has increased to 1% while the average conformity deficit has never been as high as in 2020, namely at 1.4%. The average transposition delay decreased by 36%, from 11.5 months in 2019 to 7.4 months.
- Further efforts to reduce the number of EU directives that are transposed by the Member States with delay or incorrectly, will help the Single Market to unlock its full potential and its economic and social benefits. The Long-term action plan for better implementation and enforcement of single market rules includes specific actions that should increase the co-operative mechanisms and procedures supporting Member States’ efforts towards improved compliance.
- The correct implementation of the Single Market rules will ensure its smooth-functioning and renders it an essential tool for the economic recovery of the EU and for consolidating Europe’s resilience and competitiveness. In this context, it appears essential that the national authorities devote sufficient resources to the application of the Single Market acquis and take measures to guarantee the required administrative capacity.
Overall performance (All 5 indicators combined)
- Half of the 8 Member States that maintained their December 2019 performance are above the EU average and so get a green card: Greece, Malta, Portugal and Finland. Four Member States have succeeded in joining this group: Denmark, Germany, Estonia and France with a remarkable reduction of their transposition delay.
- As for the distribution of red cards,Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden joined Spain and the Netherlands in the group of Member States that are below the EU average, while only Czechia left this group. Nine out of the 12 Member States with a red card have a transposition deficit above the 1% benchmark. Most of them (8 out of 9) were under the benchmark in December 2019.
| Transposition deficit (% of all directives not transposed)|
→ Target established by the European Council, Brussels 8-9 March 2007
|≤ 1%||/||> 1%|
| Change over the last 12 months (change in the number of non-transposed directives)||decrease||no change||increase|
| Long-overdue directives (2 years or more)|
→ Target established by the European Council, Barcelona 15-16 March 2002
| Total transposition delay (in months) for overdue directives &|
 Conformity deficit (% of all directives transposed incorrectly)
|< average||average ±10%||> average|
This table combines the most relevant indicators in order to provide a better overview of Member States' compliance in transposing the Single Market directives. The table shows that less than one third of the Member States perform better than the EU average when all the indicators are taken into account: Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, France, Malta, Portugal and Finland.
- After a steady improvement since December 2016, the number of Member States which are in line with the European Council's 1% transposition deficit target decreased dramatically from 26 to 14 Member States within the past year.
- 11 Member States that achieved the target on December 2019 (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Austria, Poland, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Slovakia) have now fallen back. The percentage increase in the transposition deficit is significant, from 25% (Greece) to 600% (Slovakia).
- Only Italy and Portugal managed to improve their performance compared to one year ago (0.4 and 0.3 percentage point respectively). Italy equalled its best score of December 2017 (0.4%). Portugal achieved its best ever result (0.1%) with merely 1 directive away from having a 0% deficit. It is now at the top of the ranking for this criterion, followed by Denmark, which illustrates that a consistently good transposition performance is possible.
- Only 5 Member States (down from 12 in 2019) have reached the 0.5% target the Commission proposed in the 2011 Single Market Act. This turnaround shows that transposition requires a permanent effort, and that any relaxation quickly leads to deficit increase.
- What is required now from those Member States which missed the 1% target is that they mobilise to improve their transposition performance. In its conclusions of 21 September 2020, the Council emphasised that, in the context of the recovery, ’a strong, fair, inclusive and resilient Single Market based on clear and respected rules is the economic cornerstone of the European integration and the key driver for the EU’s competitiveness, growth and job creation […].’ The European Council of 1 – 2 October 2020 endorsed these conclusions.
- Compared to 1 year ago, 2 Member States have decreased their number of outstanding directives (down from 21), while 20 Member States have increased it (up from 6). An average of 5 directives were added to the backlog in 2020 while an average of 2 directives were removed from the backlog on 2019.
- Out of the 20 Member States that added to their backlog, 11 of them (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Austria, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia) went above the ceiling and missed the 1% target. Spain was already above the target last year, together with Romania that did not add to its 2019 backlog.
- By contrast, 8 Member States added to their deficit but still achieved the 1% deficit target. Amongst them, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden have a transposition deficit of 1%, very close to exceeding the threshold if they do not strongly address the issue.
- Portugal reversed the negative trend of the previous year, and this time achieved the best improvement among the Member States. For its part, Italy managed to further decrease its backlog. This shows that both Member States have made sustained efforts in the current challenging times.
Indicator : Long-overdue directives (2 years or more)
Directives with transposition deadlines before 1 December 2018
|Number||Title||Not fully transposed by||Transposition date|
|2012/34/EU||Single European railway area||Luxembourg||16/06/2015|
|2014/52/EU||Amendment of Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment||Ireland||16/05/2017|
|2014/45/EU||Periodic roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers||the Netherlands||20/05/2017|
|(EU) 2015/1513||Amendment of Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources||Hungary||10/09/2017|
|2013/59/EUR||Basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation|
Spain, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden
Significantly fewer directives, but more Member States, are concerned than last year. 13 Member States have long overdue directives (up from 12) and 5 long-overdue directives have not been fully notified (down from 10).
- Missing notifications for these long-overdue directives are 5% of the overall transposition deficit (15 missing notifications out of 290). This figure has much improved (it was 11% last year) but is far too high given the zero tolerance target the European Council set in 2002 for delays of 2 years or more in transposing directives. Currently, 14 Member States respect the “zero tolerance” target compared to 16 in December 2019.
- Long transposition delays cause serious harm to the proper functioning of the Single Market. In particular, they distort the level playing field, prevent businesses and citizens from exercising their rights under the law and creates legal uncertainty. For example, Luxembourg’s non-transposition of Directive 2012/34/EU means that the Single Market is still not a reality in the Single European railway area, 5.5 years after the agreed date.
- Last year, Czechia, Denmark, Germany and France have each transposed all their long-overdue directive(s), while Ireland, Spain, Hungary and Poland have brought their backlog down from 2 directives to 1. By contrast, 6 Member States (Croatia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia) moved in the opposite direction. They have now had 1 or 2 directives overdue for more than 2 years. The situation remained unchanged in Lithuania, Sweden (1 directive each) and the Netherlands (2 directives).
- By December 2021, 7 directives risk being added to the list of long-overdue directives for some Member States.
- 19 Member States reduced their average delay (up from 9 in December 2019), while 8 increased it (down from 19). Altogether, this is a remarkable achievement.
- On the one hand, Denmark reduced its average delay the most (32.2 months to 7.9). It transposed a directive that had had to be transposed 4 years ago – which had a significant impact on its average delay of December 2019 – and 1 out of its 3 outstanding directives has been overdue for only 1 month. Malta (average delay down by 14.4 months), France (12.7 months) and Hungary (12.3 months) have also made great progress in this area.
- On the other hand, the Member States that increased their average transposition delay did it moderately: from an increase of 8.7 months for Croatia to 0.5 month for Luxembourg. Contrary to what might be assumed, having fewer outstanding directives often goes hand in hand with a greater transposition delay: when a number of recent directives are transposed, the remaining older ones may have a greater impact on the average transposition delay than they would otherwise have. This is not the case this time: most (7/8) Member States with an increased transposition delay have also increased their number of overdue directives.
- Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Hungary and Poland have now removed or reduced their backlog of long overdue directive(s). This is reflected in their reduced average delay. By contrast, delays are getting longer in 4 out of the 6 Member States that added long overdue directive(s) to their backlog (Croatia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Slovenia). Only Austria’s and Slovakia’s delays have decreased, albeit slightly.
- Transposing directives within the transposition deadline is only a part of their full implementation. They also need to be correctly transposed and applied on the ground.
- The number of infringement proceedings for incorrect transposition of Single Market directives launched by the Commission is starting to slow down. 83 new cases were launched for the period 1 December 2019 – 30 November 2020. There were 26 for the period 1 December 2016 – 30 November 2017, 89 for the period 1 December 2017 – 30 November 2018 and 161 for the period 1 December 2018 – 30 November 2019. This decrease could be attributed to the more systematical use of EU Pilot dialogue as announced in Action 21 of the March 2020 Enforcement action plan (see ‘Infringement’ chapter for more information). A second reason could be linked to the particularly large number of directives which had their transposition deadlines in 2016. The fact that the conformity checks relating to those directives are now mostly completed can also play a role.
- Nevertheless, the decrease in the number of new cases does not yet balance the fact that the number of ongoing cases still to be resolved is high.
- 4 Member States (Denmark, Croatia, Austria, Poland) have reduced their previous deficit (by 0.1 or 0.2 percentage point) while 4 others (Estonia, Portugal, Romania and Sweden) have maintained it. Croatia and Poland are no longer among the 3 Member States with the highest conformity deficit. Bulgaria and Czechia have taken their place, joining Austria in this group.
- Two years ago, 8 Member States had a conformity deficit over 1%. They were 18 in December 2019 and 23 one year later. Similarly, in 2018, only Croatia had a deficit of 1.5%; in 2019, 8 Member States had a deficit of 1.5% or above. They are now 11.
- In December 2018, 4 Member States had reached the conformity deficit target of 0.5% or less proposed in the 2011 Single Market Act. Since then, not a single Member State has reached this target. Efforts to reduce the number of EU rules incorrectly transposed by Member States can help to save much of the time and effort that currently goes into lengthy processes of revising rules after they have started to apply. Improving the cooperative mechanisms and procedures supporting Member States should result in increased compliance in the Member States.
- Some of the Member States show a combination of a high transposition deficit and a high percentage of incorrectly transposed directives (namely Bulgaria, Czechia, Spain, Croatia, Cyprus, Austria, Poland and Slovenia). These Member States in particular should consider further efforts in order to reduce these numbers.
EEA EFTA countries
However, there is a time lag between when a legal act is adopted or repealed in the EU and when it is added to or removed from the EEA Agreement. This means that the body of EU law that applies in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway may differ from that in force in the EU. On 1 December 2020, 806 directives and 3388 regulations were in force to ensure the functioning of the Single Market in the EEA. This should be borne in mind when comparing the Single Market Scoreboard with the EEA Scoreboard.
- Two of the 3 EEA EFTA countries have reached the 1% target (Norway and Liechtenstein) while the number of directives not notified has increased in 2 of the countries (Norway and Iceland) since December 2019.
- Zero tolerance target: in total, the EEA EFTA countries have 6 directives that have been overdue for 2 or more years (1 in Norway, 1 in Iceland and 4 in Liechtenstein).
- Directives remaining outstanding from previous period: Iceland: 2, Liechtenstein: 6; Norway: 1.
- The average delay has increased by 2.6 months. This is because Norway, for the first time since 2014, has 1 directive that has been outstanding for more than 2 years.
- Over the years, the Commission has observed that most Member States have shown a strong political commitment to transposition, effective administrative procedures and better coordination. This commitment has a positive effect on timely transposition of directives and helps to reduce the number of infringement cases open for late transposition.
- European Council targets: an average transposition deficit of 1.5% or less (March 2001) and 1% or less (March 2007). In November 2014, half of the Member States reached the 0.5% average transposition target proposed in the 2011 Single Market Act. By the end of 2019, 12 Member States had reached the 0.5% target and 5 were very close to it (0.6%) This shows that the Commission’s proposal was realistic and provided good incentives.
- Financial penalties: Under the Lisbon Treaty, financial penalties can be imposed when a Member State is first referred to the Court of Justice for failing to notify transposition of a directive adopted under a legislative procedure. The Communication EU Law: Better results through better application gives a high priority to the handling of cases concerning the timely transposition of directives and has reinforced the financial penalties in cases brought to the Court of Justice under Article 260(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Commission has adopted the same approach as in other infringement cases, by systematically asking the Court to impose a lump sum penalty as well as a periodic penalty payment.
- The 2019 Court of Justice ruling in case C-543/17 (Commission v. Belgium), reconfirmed in rulings C-549/18 and C-550/18, significantly clarified the respective role of the Member States and of the Commission in setting out the correlation between the provisions of a directive and the corresponding rules of national law. Compliance with this judgment will probably help to reduce the time needed to assess the national legislation implementing a directive.
- Unexpected issues as the Covid-19 crisis may temporarily affect Member States’ performance in transposing EU rules as the Member States’ attention is diverted to pressing priorities. In the context of the current outbreak, the Commission has taken a number of extraordinary measures aimed at relieving the strain on Member States’ administrative resources. Nevertheless, it has also made clear that the Member States’ legal obligations to transpose EU directives and to notify to the Commission their national transposition measures by the transposition deadlines remain unchanged. The European Council of 1-2 October 2020 underlined ‘the need to return to the normal functioning of the Single Market as soon as possible’ and called for a strict implementation and enforcement of the Single Market rules. The Commission stands ready to assist the Member States in achieving a timely and correct transposition of EU law. A reinforced cooperation between the Commission and the Member States through specific initiatives set up by the Enforcement action plan can be an effective springboard for reversing the negative trends we are seeing now. For instance, the joint Single Market Enforcement Task Force (SMET) composed of Member States and the Commission, was set up, amongst others, to assess the state of compliance of national law with Single Market rules.
Changes in the incompleteness rate
Facts and Figures
Focus on short overdue directives
The European Council set a zero tolerance target in2002 for delays of 2 or more years in transposing directives. One of the purposes of the Scoreboard is therefore to report on the number of long overdue directives in each Member State. Nevertheless, from successive Scoreboards, Member States appear to have difficulty in transposing directives within the agreed deadline. The average delay is usually between 6 and 12 months.
- In2016 (1 November 2015 – 30 November 2016) Member States had to transpose 66 new Single Market-related directives, significantly more than in2015 (47), 2017 (39), 2018 (38), 2019 (35) and 2020 (51), but above all these involved a high number of directives with transposition dates close to the cut-off date for calculating the transposition deficit. Consequently, the transposition deficit more than doubled, from 0.7% in December 2015 to 1.5% in December 2016 (back to its worst level since May 2007). This shows that the number of directives with recent transposition dates can also have a negative impact on the Member States' overall transposition performance.
- If we only consider the 17 directives with the most recent transposition dates (within the last 6 months, 1 June 2020 – 30 November 2020), the transposition deficit is 35.9% (compared to the 1% average deficit for all directives). The transposition rate varies by Member State. Denmark, Italy and Portugal have transposed 16 out of 17 directives. Germany, Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Sweden have transposed over 75% of them (13 to 15 out of 17). For 4 Member States, the transposition rate is below 50%: Bulgaria, Czechia and Spain (8/17), Cyprus (7/17), Belgium (6/17) and Luxembourg (4/17). In addition to a low transposition rate, these directives have a completeness rate of 6% (it is at 95% for all directives) as only one of the 17 directives has been transposed by all Member States.
- The long delays cannot be explained only by administrative burdens, the complexity of the directives or short transposition deadlines (time between the adoption of the directive and the date agreed for notifying national transposition measures to the Commission). On these deadlines, if we look at the 17 directives due in the last 6 months, there is an average transposition period of more than 2 years (29.1 months) for the 12 directives adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, and an average transposition period of 6.5 months for the 5 execution directives adopted by the Commission (or by the Council for taxation issues).
- This shows that most of the Member Statesneed to better plan their transposition and notification process for directives that have to be incorporated into national law. As the Guardian of the Treaties, the Commission launches infringement proceedings for non-communication of the expected national measures within 2 months of the transposition deadline’s passing. Too many of these infringement proceedings are being launched because of delays for logistical reasons unrelated to the complexity and/or sensitivity of the directives.
- Based on information provided by Member States, timely transposition seems to be linked to four factors in particular: (1) Political attention; (2) Careful planning; (3) Starting transposition work while negotiations are still ongoing; (4) Close cooperation with national parliaments. Member States are therefore encouraged to proceed with the necessary steps as early as possible as regards these identified factors, in addition to using tools provided by the Commission. In this context, the Enforcement action plan foresees two concrete actions to improve the transposition and implementation of EU rules: (1) a structured dialogue between Member States and the Commission to be established during the transposition period, and (2) the use of ‘dynamic virtual concordance tables’ to support the transposition process.
- This graph shows the number of directives whose transposition has been declared complete by each Member State and for which the Commission is examining whether the notification process is indeed complete. For cases which are already the subject of an infringement procedure, the outcome will either be a new formal step in the procedure or its closure. If the Commission decides to continue with an infringement case or launch infringement proceedings, the directives concerned will be included in the transposition deficit in the next report.
- This also explains the difference between the number of formal infringement procedures pending for non-communication of national transposition measures (586 in the Single Market field on 1 December 2020) and the number (290) of missing transpositions and transpositions declared partially notified by the Member States (or by a College decision). For a significant part of the notifications made in the context of an infringement procedure (+ a number of notifications made before a formal infringement procedure was launched), the Commission services are examining the notifications, or, where completeness has already been checked, have asked for the case to either be formally closed or be continued.
- The number of notifications whose completeness is under examination varies from one Member State to the next: 4 for Lithuania, Luxembourg and Malta but 27 for Portugal, for example. In December 2019, the figures were quite similar, with a maximum of 21 notifications (for Belgium) and the EU average at 10. The fairly large number of notifications currently being analysed is logically linked to the rather large number of directives to be transposed during the period of 1 December 2019 – 1 December 2020 (51).
Overdue directives by sector and Member States
This table shows, for each Member State, the total number of directives not fully notified, broken down by sector, as on 10 December 2020. Sectors in which directives have been fully transposed are included under ‘Others’. The highlighted figures show the sector(s) with the highest number of overdue directives in each Member State.
Audiovisual services (2)
Capital goods (44)
Energy incl. Energy
Financial information and
company law (17)
Financial services (54)
Free movement of
Plant-health legislation (163)
Public procurement (11)
Social Policy (90)
Special freedom of
movement arrangements (12)
Directives subject to notification by next Scoreboard
New directives will soon be added to the current transposition deficit (new directives to be transposed and notified by 30 November 2021).
Single Market directives are legal acts considered to have an impact on the functioning of the Single Market, as defined in Article 26(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This includes the four freedoms (freedom of movement of persons, goods, services and capital across borders within the EU), and supporting policies that have a direct impact on the Single Market such as taxation, employment, culture, social policy, education, public health, energy, consumer protection, transport, environment (except nature protection), and information society and media.
With its judgment of 8 July 2019 in Case C-543/17, Commission v Belgium, the Court of Justice clarified the scope of Article 260(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) by stating that its sanction mechanism may also be applied in case of a partial failure to adopt and to communicate the transposition measures. In this context, the Court refers to the obligation of the Member States not only to notify transposition measures as such, but also to supply sufficiently clear and precise information as to which provisions of national law transpose which provisions of a directive. In the absence of such indications and in full respect of the principle of proportionality, the Commission can continue to pursue an infringement procedure based on Articles 258 and 260(3) TFEU. On 16 July 2020, the Court of Justice reconfirmed its position in rulings C-549/18, Commission v Romania, and C-550/18, Commission v Ireland, and clarified further the calculation and imposition of daily penalties and lump sums for the non-communication cases. Consequently, the Commission proposals under article 260(3) TFEU are binding as regards the maximum amount of the penalty. In the context of the calculation of the lump sum, the Court clarified that the calculation of the duration of the infringement starts from the transposition deadline of the Directive.