Iceland impish with EU regulations / News / The Foreigner

Iceland impish with EU regulations. EXTENDED ARTICLE: The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has handled 21 incidents involving the island country and the EEA Agreement in the past two years. Norway remains polluted. 13 cases were lodged against the Republic of Iceland last year, ESA says. These included ship-source pollution and penalties, as well as equal treatment of men and women (access to goods and services). 2013, a record year for numbers of ESA-brought proceedings against EEA states, saw a total of 10 cases come before the EFTA Court in Luxembourg.

eea, eu, iceland, norway, paywall



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Iceland impish with EU regulations

Published on Friday, 16th January, 2015 at 20:05 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 16th January 2015 at 21:05.

EXTENDED ARTICLE: The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has handled 21 incidents involving the island country and the EEA Agreement in the past two years. Norway remains polluted.

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland
View of Reykjavik from the spire of Hallgrímskirkja.Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland
Photo: Andreas Tille/Wikimedia Commons


13 cases were lodged against the Republic of Iceland last year, ESA says. These included ship-source pollution and penalties, as well as equal treatment of men and women (access to goods and services).

2013, a record year for numbers of ESA-brought proceedings against EEA states, saw a total of 10 cases come before the EFTA Court in Luxembourg.

Eight of these involved Iceland, two involved Norway. According to ESA, there were nine judgments about EEA Agreement breaches: Iceland received seven, Norway two.

Insurance mediation, and protection of consumers regarding timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale, and exchange contracts were some of the cases involving Iceland.

Mad cow disease

Cows in a field
Cows in a field
©2015 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner
ESA’s Annual Report for 2013 lists other matters too. These include how Iceland’s State Alcohol and Tobacco Company (ATVR) purchases alcoholic beverages and determines product selection.

One complaint saw a claim of discrimination against foreign producers and importers of alcoholic beverages, so giving priority to domestically-produced beverages. Iceland agreed to alter its legislation.

A ban on imports of fresh, prepared, and other meat products from other EEA States, as well as poor animal bi-product handling methods preventing disease spreading to humans and animals were also listed in the 2013 report.

Moreover, Iceland had not imposed rules aimed at preventing, controlling, and eradicating the spread of mad cow disease (BSE).

“Iceland had unilaterally exempted these provisions of the Regulation from application on the basis that mad cow disease has never been detected in Iceland,” declared the ESA. Icelandic officials subsequently amended legislation.

Discrimination

Desk
Desk
Jordan Fischer/Wikimedia Commons
2013 saw ESA launch legal proceedings against Iceland and Norway regarding national rules on study aid too. This involved discrimination against workers from other EEA States and their families.

ESA sent both countries a letter in November of that year. Officials stated that they believed EEA legislation on free movement had been breached.

“Norwegian legislation imposes a residence requirement, together with the requirement of proficiency in the Norwegian language, for financial assistance to studies abroad, which puts migrant and frontier workers and their families at a disadvantage compared to nationals,” ESA officials stated.

“Moreover, both Norway and Iceland grant financial assistance to migrant and frontier workers only on condition that the studies pursued are linked to their professional activities in those States. However, they do not provide for such a requirement with respect to their nationals.”

Safety concerns

Pothole in the road
Pothole in the road
comedy_nose/Flickr
In comparison, Norway’s case numbers for 2013 were a modest two. Both cases were about not implementing or adopting EU legislation properly. The first was regarding roadworthiness tests, the second about using the financial system for money laundering and terrorist financing.

ESA’s Annual Report 2013 also lists mad cow disease measures in Norway, as well as complaints about new road tunnels and road tolls.

The Authority found that Norway had not imposed the EU’s total ban on cattle feed containing animal proteins – it has been in place for fish meal since 2005.

Norway eventually implemented the cattle rules in 2010 after initially opposing the embargo, but not 100 per cent, said officials.   

“Inspections carried out by the Authority have, on several occasions, shown that Norway still does not fully comply with the total feed ban, as Norway allows production of ruminant feed in facilities not physically separate from facilities producing feed containing fish meal for non-ruminant species (e.g. swine and poultry), which is contrary to EEA legislation.”

ESA also rejected Norway’s application for revising its annual BSE monitoring programme, and told officials to separate fish food and animal feed production lines.

On the road

Ryfylke tunnel (Ryfast)
Ryfylke tunnel (Ryfast)
©OpenStreetMap contributors/CC BY-SA
Two separate complaints were received about road tunnels in western Norway; both were about safety concerns, both regarding the same scheme.

The first, which was ultimately rejected, concerned gradients in Ryfast – a Norwegian Public Road Authority’s (NPRA/Vegvesenet) project involving two consecutive subsea road tunnels.

Eiganestunnelen, the other tunnel in this major project, breached EU safety legislation regarding numbers of lanes and junctions, the second complaint claimed.

The case was still under investigation when ESA published its report in 2013. The construction project, which is thought to take four years to complete, is underway.

Road toll complaints were about the money being used for financing other infrastructure instead of the stretch of road it was collected on. It was alleged this breached European heavy vehicle taxation legislation.

ESA rejected the complaint against a new toll road in Oppland County’s Gudbrandsdalen region. The Authority was still investigating another complaint concerning a similar toll road case when the Annual Report 2013 was compiled.

Levies and contamination

Norway is currently involved in three ESA cases. In December 2014, it was announced these would be brought before the EFTA Court in Luxembourg this year.

Norway has not implemented airport charges legislation on time, says ESA. The scheme is mainly designed for increased transparency regarding which costs these levies cover. Ensuring egalitarian charging is also part of the move.

Oslo Airport
Oslo Airport
Oslo Lufthavn AS
The Scandinavian country is also in breach of EEA tax rules concerning leased cars registered in another country. ESA concludes that having to pay full registration tax without considering how long that vehicle is used in Norway is out of proportion.

EEA legislation only allows Norway to levy this tax on a vehicle registered in another EEA state if it’s main use is in Norway on a permanent basis. Officials think that the amount of tax charged must reflect the amount of time that the vehicle is in the country.

In another motoring issue, Norway is set to appear in the EFTA Court regarding levels of pollution. No date has been decided yet.

The case involving Liechtenstein concerns fully-qualified dentists’ rights.

ESA believes that EEA Agreement legislation (Article 31) about restrictions on the freedom of establishment, and the right to take up and pursue activities as self-employed persons have been breached.

Liechtenstein’s health legislation stipulates an authorised dentist can only work as an employee “under the direct supervision, instruction and responsibility of a fully qualified dental practitioner.”




Published on Friday, 16th January, 2015 at 20:05 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 16th January 2015 at 21:05.

This post has the following tags: eea, eu, iceland, norway, paywall.





  
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