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PR(02)18: The EFTA Surveillance Authority requests Iceland and Norway to comply with EEA rules

26.9.2002

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has delivered three reasoned opinions to Iceland and one to Norway for failure to comply with EEA rules.

Iceland: Failure to properly implement accounting directives

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has delivered two reasoned opinions concluding that Iceland had failed to adopt sufficient national measures to implement the Fourth Council Directive 78/660/EEC on the annual accounts of certain types of companies (Fourth company law Directive) and the Seventh Council Directive 83/349/EEC on consolidated accounts (Seventh company law Directive).

The Authority issued a letter of formal notice to Iceland, on 1 December 2000, finding that the national measures notified by Iceland did not ensure adequate implementation with the Fourth company law Directive. On 8 February 2001, the Authority issued a letter of formal notice to Iceland on the Seventh company law Directive, concluding that the national measures notified by Iceland did not ensure adequate implementation with the directive.

In its replies to the letters, the Icelandic Government agreed with the Authority’s observation that further national measures were needed to ensure full compliance with the two directives. Moreover, the Icelandic Government informed the Authority that it would propose, in the autumn of 2001, changes to national legislation in order to fully implement the Directives. In a renewed forecast the Icelandic Government informed the Authority that it planned to submit a draft bill to the parliament in the first quarter of 2002.

No such bills have yet been submitted to the parliament. Moreover, according to the Authority’s information, the proposals have not been prepared and it is foreseen that the bill will not be presented to the parliament until autumn 2002 at the earliest. Under these circumstances the Authority decided to send the two reasoned opinions to Iceland.

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Iceland: Restrictions to comply with reporting obligations

A reasoned opinion was delivered owing to Iceland’s failure to report on the practical implementation in the maritime sector of fourteen directives in the field of health and safety at work. Iceland’s reporting obligations arose in 1997 and 1999.

Having received no reports on the implementation of the Directives in the maritime sector, the Authority sent a letter of formal notice to Iceland on 7 May 2002. Iceland was given two months to reply to this letter. So far the Authority has not received the requested reports or any other reply to the letter of formal notice from Iceland.  Therefore, the Authority considered it appropriate to send a reasoned opinion.

Norway: Restrictions on the provision of aerial photography services

In a case initiated on the basis of a complaint, the Authority delivered a reasoned opinion concluding that a Norwegian Regulation on aerial photography and the related grant of security licences breached the EEA fundamental freedom on provision of services.

Article 36 of the EEA Agreement states that there shall be no restrictions on freedom to provide services within the territory of the EEA States in respect of nationals of EC Member States and EFTA States who are established in an EC Member State or an EFTA State other than that of the person for whom the services are intended.  

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The Authority maintains that the Regulation, whereby non-Norwegian EEA nationals are treated less favourably than Norwegian nationals with respect to the grant of permission to carry out aerial photography services and the grant of security licences, is in breach of Article 36 of the EEA Agreement.  Such a discriminatory measure may only be justified by the list of limited non-economic grounds provided by Article 33 of the EEA Agreement, namely public policy, public security or public health aims. 

In the Authority’s opinion, Norway has not demonstrated that its national measure is justified for public security reasons.  In addition, the fact that the Norwegian authorities are instructed to no longer apply the Norwegian Regulation towards EEA nationals cannot justify the maintenance of that Regulation in Norwegian law.

The purpose of a Reasoned Opinion is to give the States in question a last chance to take corrective measures before the Authority decides to bring the matter before the EFTA Court.

For further information please contact Mr. Tor Arne Solberg-Johansen (Press and Information Officer), telephone (32)-02-286-1866. 

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