The Luxembourg and Dutch governments both face court after breaking a deadline to implement EU free establishment directives
The member states were supposed to inform the European Commission (EC) by 14 March as to how they had incorporated the law that allows lawyers the right to work across the EU, but neither has done so. The failures mean that both face being taken to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). If the court finds against the kingdom and the grand duchy, they will almost certainly have to adopt the directive in its entirety. Under current ECJ rules, its judges have the power to levy massive recurring fines, as much as e100,000 (£62,000) a day, which are payable until they rule that the member state has complied with their wishes. The EC's action comes after it sent a legal last warning lesson to the two governments, called a reasoned opinion, which gave them two months to explain how they would implement the EU legislation. Directive 98/5/EC was framed to help EU lawyers to practise in any member state under the home-country professional title and take part in joint practices. It enables lawyers to practise permanently and without restriction, under their original professional title, in another member state on the same basis as the host country's own lawyers, simply by registering with the local bar or other competent authority. The directive also makes it easier to acquire the professional title of the host member state, where authorities have to take account of the applicant's professional experience. France and Ireland have also failed to implement the directive, although it is not known when the deadline was set for them to inform the EC about their plans.