This report provides statistics on single market infringement proceedings that were open on 1 December 2022. All comparisons are with the figures for the last reporting date, 1 December 2021. The statistics do not include cases of late transposition (known as “non-communication cases”) – except in the pie chart entitled “Types of cases”. This is to avoid such cases being counted twice, as they are already covered in the “Transposition” governance tool.
To make the single market work for all, common EU rules are in place, facilitating the free movement of people, goods, services and capital. These rules can only deliver their intended results if they are properly implemented and enforced throughout the EU.
It is a shared responsibility of the Member States and the Commission to ensure that single market rules are complied with and that people’s rights are enforced. Member States are required to comply with EU rules they have agreed to as European legislators. They have to detect and remedy violations of single market rules in their own territory. The Commission, in accordance with Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), is obliged to ensure that all Member States implement and comply with single market rules. The Commission can take legal action, by initiating an infringement procedure in line with Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), against any EU Member State that fails to implement EU law. The Commission may refer the issue to the Court of Justice of the European Union (the Court), which can impose financial penalties in certain cases.
Monitoring infringements helps to make the single market work better. It highlights the efforts that Member States are making to ensure that single market law is implemented properly and encourages them to improve their performance.
Infringements and the single market – why does it matter?
Incorrect transposition, implementation and application of EU rules creates barriers to the smooth functioning of the single market. This harms the EU economy and undermines the confidence people and businesses have in the single market and the EU in general.
The March 2020 Long-term action plan for better implementation and enforcement of single market rules aimed to make the EU’s compliance and enforcement policy as effective and efficient as possible. Committed to increasing their joint efforts to this end, the Commission and Member States devised 22 specific measures. These range from increasing the knowledge and awareness of single market rules and making the best use of preventive mechanisms, to strengthening enforcement on the ground and improving the handling of infringements.
As follow-up to the long-term action plan, the Single Market Enforcement Task Force (SMET) was set up in 2020, to offer a high-level forum where the Commission and Member States collaboratively commit to devising and implementing solutions to single market obstacles rooted in enforcement or implementation deficiencies. In 2022, SMET has continued to work intensively to address some horizontal pressing barriers that hamper the proper functioning of the single market (more details in the 2021-2022 Report, published on 28 November 2022).
In October 2022, the Commission adopted the Communication Enforcing EU law for a Europe that delivers which stressed that enforcement of EU law is and will remain one of the Commission’s core priorities. The Commission uses its enforcement powers and resorts to infringement procedures where necessary to protect our commonly agreed rules. However, it made it clear that a steady and sustained collaboration between the Commission and the Member States is required to ensure the consistent and effective application of EU rules and to prevent potential problems. Since the new strategic approach put in place by the 2016 Communication EU Law: Better Results through Better Application, infringement proceedings are understood as a last resort after exhausting all other possibilities based on negotiation and prevention.
- 3 Member States have improved on their December 2021 overall performance (Czechia, France and Lithuania) while the situation has deteriorated for 7 Member States (Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Finland). All other Member States have matched their previous performance. Overall, the situation has worsened, in comparison to last year, when no Member State performed worse than previously.
- After steadily increasing for 3 years (2017-2020) and strongly decreasing in 2021 (-12%), the number of pending single market infringement cases has continued its declining trend. The total number of single market cases is 713, 26 less than in the previous Scoreboard (-4%). One explanation is the wider use of the early problem-solving mechanism (EU Pilot) requested by the Member States, combined with the impact of the pandemic on the work relating to the application of EU law and on the use of compliance tools such as the dialogue with Member States.
- With 46 cases, Spain is still the Member State with most pending infringement cases. It is followed by Greece (45), Italy (42) Germany (40) and Bulgaria (38). France is no longer part of this top 5, having given way to Bulgaria.
- The sectors with most single market-related infringement cases are environment (30%), transport (16%) and services & professions (14%).
- After a 13% decrease between December 2017 and December 2019, the average case duration is now 47.9 months, up 12% from 42.8 months one year ago, and up 38% compared with December 2019. This increase in duration over the last year is in part due to the resolution of a limited number of old cases combined with the launching of a limited number of new cases. Remaining cases get older and weigh more heavily on the calculation of the average duration.
- As highlighted in the third Annual Single Market Report published in January 2023, the effectiveness of single market rules agreed to by Member State is undermined by their difficulties in integrating them into their national frameworks properly and on time. This prevents businesses and people in the Member States from benefiting from a more integrated single market, and it creates an uneven playing field, ultimately hurting the economy in each Member State. It is therefore essential that national authorities devote sufficient resources and efforts to applying the single market body of law and take measures to ensure the required administrative capacity is available.
- 3 Member States have improved on their December 2021 overall performance (Czechia, France and Lithuania) while the situation has deteriorated for 7 Member States (Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Finland). All other Member States have matched their previous performance.
- 6 Member States performed above the EU average: Denmark, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta. Lithuania has succeeded in joining this group while Finland left it.
- Of the Member States given a “red card” in December 2021, Czechia and France have succeeded in tackling the issue, and now perform around the EU average. Germany and Spain have remained in the red zone, joined by Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia. For Germany and Spain, this situation has been going on for several years (since December 2018 and December 2017 respectively).
- In 2020, the return of “green cards” was seen as a promising sign that the overall handling of infringements was improving. The number of green cards (6) remained stable in 2021 and 2022; however, the number of red cards doubled.
| Number of pending infringement proceedings &  Duration of infringement proceedings (in months)||< average||average ± 10%||> average|
| Change over the last 12 months (change in the number of infringement cases)||decrease||no change||increase|
| Duration since Court’s ruling (in months)||< 8 months||8-18 months||> 18 months|
This table combines the most relevant indicators to provide a better overview of Member States’ compliance with the requirement to implement and apply single market rules. The table shows that only a small number of six Member States perform better than the EU average when all indicators are taken into account: Denmark, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta. This is the same number as last year.
- After steadily increasing for 3 years (2017-2020) and strongly decreasing in 2021 (-12%), the number of pending infringements continued its declining trend. The total number of cases is 713, 26 less than in the previous Scoreboard (-4%). 121 cases of the 739 cases pending 12 months ago have since been resolved. Particular progress has been made on environment (34 cases closed), taxation (26 cases) and transport (19 cases).
- Besides the closure of 121 cases, the last year has seen the launch of 95 new cases (not including those for late transposition), which were still pending on 1 December 2022. Of these, 29 concerned environment (31%), and 26 services and professions (27%).
- 37 of the new cases concerned incorrect transposition of directives (39%), while 38 had to do with incorrect application (40%). The remaining 20 concerned incorrect application of regulations, decisions and the Treaties and now account for 21% of all cases (up from 7% last year).
- In parallel with this new – although more modest – decrease in the number of cases at EU level, most Member States (18/27) have cut or maintained their previous number of cases. The other 8 Member States show a moderate increase (1 to 4 cases). With 46 cases, Spain is still the Member State with most pending infringement cases. It is followed by Greece (45), Italy (42), Germany (40) and Bulgaria (38). These 5 Member States with most infringements account for 30% of all cases. Compared to last year, France is no longer part of this top 5, having given way to Bulgaria.
- Compared to a year ago, 17 Member States reduced their number of cases (down from 23), while the number rose in 9 Member States (up from 1). In 2021, with the exception of Czechia, all Member States had cut or maintained their number of cases.
- 14 Member States achieved a further decrease in their number of cases. The Member States with the biggest reduction in cases – in absolute numbers – since December 2020 are Spain (-12), followed by Latvia (-10) and Malta (-9). However, this year, the average backlog reduction is 1 case, compared to 4 cases last year.
- Czechia reversed the negative trend of the previous year (+2 cases) and reduced its number of cases (-3). By contrast, Belgium, Ireland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Finland and Sweden were unable to maintain their progress from last year, with 1 to 4 additional cases. Clearly, these changes should be viewed in relation to the total number of cases in each Member State (Indicator ).
- Rapid action to bring to an end breaches of single market rules is vital for people and businesses in the EU who wish to exercise their rights in the single market. However, after a 13% decrease between December 2017 and December 2019, the average case duration is now 47.9 months, up 12% from 42.8 months a year ago, and 38% compared with December 2019.
- Spain is still the Member State with the highest case duration while Croatia is now the Member State with the shortest duration. Greece, which held this position last year moved back one place.
- The average case duration has fallen in 4 Member States (Ireland, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal), compared with 2 in December 2021. All reductions are less than 6 months.
- In 22 Member States (down from 25 a year ago), the average duration of cases is longer than a year ago. For those Member States, duration has increased by 7 months on average but, increases are higher in 9 Member States, in particular in Estonia (+14.7 months), Latvia (+14.5 months) and Cyprus (+10.3 months). Out of the 22 Member States with increased average case duration, 16 recorded their longest duration ever. 8 Member States have increased their average case duration by 50% or more in 2 years, in particular Latvia (+133%), Estonia (+119%) and Luxembourg (+97.1%). At the other end of the spectrum, the reductions over 2 years are much less spectacular: less than 1% (for Hungary, Poland and Portugal).
- Although the goal is always to keep infringement proceedings as short as possible, an increase in duration is not necessarily negative. Generally, this happens when Member States resolve a number of quite recent cases. At the same time, as the remaining cases get older, they weigh more heavily on the calculation of the average duration. However, an increase in duration can also happen when the duration of the older cases is not balanced by the shorter duration of new cases. This is particularly the case this time: in comparison with the previous reporting period, almost 50% fewer cases have been resolved and around 20% fewer new cases have been launched.
- The December 2016 Communication on EU Law: Better Results through Better Application underlined the importance of limiting any distortion of single market rules as much as possible. This issue was also reflected in the March 2020 Enforcement Action Plan that proposes setting ambitious additional benchmarks. An average maximum of 36 months (to either close a case or send it to the Court) seems a reasonable initial target for all Member States (in collaboration with the Commission) to meet. However, while half of them (13) were below this threshold in 2020, only 6 were below it in 2021 and none in 2022.
- Article 260(1) TFEU, as interpreted by the Court of Justice, requires that after a Court ruling establishing a breach of EU legislation, the Member State concerned takes swift action to ensure compliance with EU law. The Communication on EU Law: Better Results through Better Application notes that infringements must be dealt with promptly. An average maximum duration of 18 months for the Member States to comply with a Court judgement is proposed as a first incentive threshold.
- However, the average time Member States take to comply with a Court ruling continues to increase (from 46.8 months a year ago to 48.3 months now, double the average from 6 years ago). For 15 Member States, it is over 3 years. As in 2021, only Czechia and Italy met the 18-month compliance threshold.
- 6 Member States (Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Austria, Poland and Slovenia) have cut their average compliance time (up from 4 in December 2021). The most impressive reduction was in Austria (-24.6 months). Bulgaria and Italy also deserve a special mention: their average compliance time reduced by more than 60% in 2 years. The average compliance time for 9 Member States remained unchanged.
- 8 Member States had longer average compliance times than a year ago (when there were 12 of them). The Member States with the biggest increase are Denmark (+45.6 months) and the Netherlands (+40.4 months).
- Note: the above figures are based on cases closed in the last 5 years. Taking a case closed more than 5 years ago out of the statistics, or adding a recently closed one, can have a major impact on the results, especially for Member States with only a few cases. The 5 Member States with longer compliance times than last year thus have few cases and managed to close cases for which a Court ruling had been issued a particularly long time ago (from 9 to 18 years). Belgium, Germany, Greece, Austria and Portugal also have closed cases with very long compliance time. However, the impact of such closures is diluted in their larger number of cases.
EEA EFTA countries
However, there is a time lag between the adoption or repeal of a legal act in the EU and its addition to or removal from the EEA Agreement. The body of EU law applicable in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway may thus differ from that applicable in the EU. This should be borne in mind when comparing the Single Market Scoreboard and the EEA Scoreboard.
- 52 infringement cases have to do with incorrect transposition or application. This represents an increase of 4 cases in a year (+8%). However, the total number of infringement cases has strongly decreased from 188 to130 (-31%).
- There is an increase in the number of cases concerning late transposition of directives: 11 infringement cases are pending, compared to 10 in December 2021.
- Cases dealing with the incorporation of regulations have nearly halved, from 130 to 67 (-48%).
- Problematic sectors remain transport, right of establishment, social security and persons-other.
Trends (in the EU)
Facts and figures
Cases by sector
This table shows the total number of infringement cases for each Member State on 1 December 2022, broken down by sector. Sectors with few infringement proceedings are included in “other sectors“. The highlighted figures show the sector(s) with most infringement cases in each Member State (where relevant, 10% or more of the total number of pending cases).
(#) = Total number of infringement cases by sector
Air transport (51)
Atmospheric pollution (61)
Chemical substances, industrial
and biotechnological hazards (19)
Direct taxation (26)
Employment, social affairs and iInclusion (42)
Environmental impact (28)
Financial services (37)
Indirect taxation (17)
Nuclear safety and
radioactive waste (26)
Public procurement (23)
Road and rail transport (32)
Services and Professions – compliance issues (83)
Services and Professions – sectoral issues (18)
Transport safety (23)
Waste management (31)
Water protection and management (62)
Other sectors (98)
Sectors with most infringement cases
- Environment – 30% of all cases (especially atmospheric pollution, water protection and management, and waste management)
- Transport – 16% (especially air transport, road and rail transport, and transport safety)
- Services and professions – 14%
- Energy – 9% (especially nuclear safety and radioactive waste, and energy security and safety)
Problematic sectors by Member State
- Environment – Slovakia (45% of all cases) Ireland and Romania (41%), France and Slovenia (39%), Greece and Italy (38%), Czechia (37%)
- Transport – Denmark (33% of all cases), Lithuania and Malta (27%), Luxembourg (25%)
- Services and professions – Malta (33% of all cases), Cyprus and Latvia (25%)
- Taxation – Germany (23% of all cases)
- Financial services – Finland (23% of all cases)
- The number of pending infringement cases for late transposition continued to increase in this reporting period (866, up from 763). This was mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which placed a strain on Member States’ administrative resources. After these 2 difficult years, the Member States managed to break the significant upward trend, reducing the transposition deficit by 30%, from 1.6 to 1.1%, very close to the 1% target. The high number of notifications currently being analysed is linked to the slowdown in transposition activities in 2020 and 2021, when the Member States’ authorities were trying to cope with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are now transposing their backlog, as reflected in the reduction of the number of missing notifications in a year (426 to 290) and the consequent improvement of the transposition deficit.
- The number of pending infringement cases for late transposition (866) is much higher than the current number of missing transpositions and transpositions declared partial by the Member States or by a formal Commission decision (290). This is because the Commission needs time to assess the completeness of the measures belatedly notified, and, if applicable, to close non-communication proceedings. For more on this see “Indicator  - Transposition deficit” in the “Transposition” governance tool.
Single market legislation includes acts and Treaty provisions 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 legislation covers the four freedoms (freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital across borders within the EU), and supporting policies with 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 the information society and media.
This document does not include cases of late transposition (known as “non-communication cases”) – except in the pie chart entitled “Types of cases”. This is to avoid such cases being counted twice, as they are already covered in the “Transposition” governance tool.
The Commission always initiates infringement proceedings if a Member State has not transposed an EU directive correctly or on time. It may also initiate proceedings if it considers that a Member State is applying single market rules incorrectly. Infringement proceedings start when the Commission sends a letter of formal notice to the Member State concerned. However, only the Court can rule definitively that a breach of EU law has occurred.
More about infringement procedures.