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PR(01)33: The EFTA Surveillance Authority sends three reasoned opinions to Liechtenstein for failure to implement EEA law

18.9.2002

The Data Protection Directive
On 19 November 2001 the EFTA Surveillance Authority sent a Reasoned Opinion to Liechtenstein for failure to implement substantial parts of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data.

According to the Directive, as adapted to the EEA Agreement by Protocol 1 thereto, the EFTA States were under the obligation to ensure full implementation of the Directive by 1 July 2000.  Liechtenstein notified the Directive as partially implemented on 15 September 2000.  Upon examination of the notified measures the Authority concluded, however, that substantial parts of the Directive had not been correctly implemented.            

The main aim of the Directive is to ensure the protection by the EU and EFTA States of its citizens’ fundamental right to privacy with respect to the protection of personal data.  At the same time it sets out to ensure, within the framework of protection provided by the Directive, the free flow of personal data within the EEA. 

Among the provisions not correctly implemented by Liechtenstein are important principles relating to the quality of data, criteria for making data processing legitimate, the information to be provided to the data subject and the data subject’s right to access to the data and object to the processing of data concerning him, as well as particular restrictions on the processing of sensitive personal data (e.g. information on a data subject’s political views, ethnic origin or health). 

Safety and Health requirements at Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites
On 29 November the Authority sent a Reasoned Opinion to Liechtenstein arising from its failure to fully implement Council Directive 92/57/EC on the implementation of minimum safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites. Liechtenstein, which was obliged to bring into force the Directive by 1 May 1995, notified a partial implementation in October 1998. Articles 3 to 7 of the Directive have not yet been fully implemented. In January 2001, the Authority started formal infringement proceedings. In November 2001, the Authority was informed that the adoption of the necessary legislative measures have been delayed again.

Protection of Consumers in respect of Distance Contracts
On 18 December 2001, the EFTA Surveillance Authority sent a Reasoned Opinion to Liechtenstein for failure to adopt national rules in order to fully implement Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 1997 on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts.

Directive 97/7/EC, as incorporated into the EEA Agreement, aims at ensuring the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts between them and their suppliers within the internal market. Certain essential information must be provided before the conclusion of any distance contract and consumers must receive proof on a durable medium. Consumers benefit from a cooling-off period of seven working days, enabling them to withdraw from the contract without giving any reason and without any penalty. In addition, the Directive includes provisions on time limits for performance (30 days) and on refunds. As regards protection against certain aggressive selling techniques, provision is made either for a system of prior consent (in the case of faxes) or an opt-out system (cold calling). The Directive indicates that the absence of response by the consumer does not constitute consent. Finally, the Directive also contains a series of provisions designed to facilitate the settlement of disputes.

Although Liechtenstein has notified the Authority of measures partially implementing the Directive, that State has admitted that it has failed to do so in respect of most of the provisions of the Directive. This concerns especially Article 6 of the Directive concerning the cooling-off period.

In each of the three cases listed above, Liechtenstein has been given three months to take the measures necessary to comply with the Reasoned Opinions.

For further information please contact Mr. Peter Dyrberg, Director of the Legal and Executive Affairs Department, telephone (32)-2-286-1830. 

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