Špidla threatens member states with Court over working time

Reacting to a recommendation from the European Ombudsman, Commissioner Vladimír Špidla is putting pressure on member states to transpose and enforce EU working time law.

On 20 September 2006, the Commission received a recommendation from the Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, criticising the EU executive for its sluggish enforcement of the Working Time Directive in member states (see EURACTIV, 20 September 2006). A few hours after the recommendation was sent to the Commission, Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimír Špidla responded, saying that he was “aware of the difficult situation in which are doctors, nurses, firemen and other professionals working on-call due to the fact that several member states are not in line with ECJ rulings on the Working Time Directive”. 

Špidla said that “almost all member states seem to be in breach of the court rulings”, urging them “to act now”. He added that “if ministers cannot agree over the next months, I have no other choice than to take member states to court on this issue”. 

The Commissioner said that he hoped for a political agreement on the implementation of the Working Time Directive before the Finnish Presidency ends at the end of 2006. He added: “I trust the Finnish Presidency to bring about a solution in the coming weeks.”

At the end of August 2006, it was annnounced that the Commission’s DG Transport was preparing cases before the European Court of Justice against nine member states (Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain) for failing to notify the Commission of the implementation of working-time regulations in the transport sector in national law.

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