Coreper endorses IMI agreement
By Sophie Mosca | Friday 25 May 2012
A first-reading agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on a new legal framework for the Internal Market Information System (IMI) is now almost certain, since the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) has now endorsed the compromise negotiated by the Danish Presidency with Parliament’s rapporteur, Adam Bielan (ECR, Poland), on the proposed regulation, which re-organises the patchwork of comitology decisions on which the IMI is based. The system will also be extended to cover new fields of action.
The IMI network, created in 2008 to improve the exchange of administrative information within the framework of Directive 2005/36/EC on professional qualifications and of the Services Directive (2006/136/EC), functions on the basis of a decision and diverse recommendations. However, “this lack of a solid legal basis appears to be a major obstacle to every new extension of the IMI system,” Bielan emphasises in his report, which was adopted in the Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market (IMCO), on 20 March (see
The initiative is related to the rather more political reform of the governance of the internal market, presented by the Commission last February (4373), and which aims to improve the functioning and coordination of tools for this sizeable market. It also suggests that the IMI should be more flexible in order to integrate other sectors.
NEW LEGISLATIVE AREAS
However, MEPs and member states hope to keep control of these developments - rather than allowing the Commission to lead the way. The Commission has called for a return to delegated acts to extend the use of the IMI to further legislative areas. Therefore, all changes to the fields covered by the IMI would have to be approved via the co-decision procedure.
The compromise identifies several scenarios. Certain sectors are already considered as connected to the IMI, and these figure in the annex of the regulation, which lists the planned sectors where the IMI could be used, as well as the two already included (services and professional qualifications). Included in the planned category are the regulation on the transfer of funds in euro (1214/2011), which allows for administrative cooperation for checking the licenses of transporters of funds, and possibly Directive 2011/24/EC on the rights of patients.
The planned extensions will either be relegated to the annex of the IMI regulation, or the idea of a new link with the IMI will be tested with a pilot project. which must be validated via execution measures. If the use of the IMI is relevant, a new co-decision act will be required to formalise relegating the extensions to the annex of the regulation on the IMI.
The use of the IMI for procurement contracts is also foreseen in the directive currently under discussion, which illustrates the first possible scenario. The extension of the system to cover online gaming (although no directive is currently on the horizon in this area) has also been suggested, as well as the inclusion of the communication of civil documents envisaged in an upcoming Commission proposal.
Nonetheless, there are two exceptions to these procedures: the use of the IMI within the framework of the e-commerce directive will lead to a pilot project - which will not require execution acts in order to be launched, given the importance of the subject, and within the framework of Directive 2011/24/EC on the posting of workers. Regarding the latter, although the proposal has only been on the table since 21 March, a pilot project was launched in May in order to speed up the process.
Moreover, the regulation proposes consolidating the current rules governing the IMI, particularly those linked to the treatment of information of a personal nature, before any future extensions are confirmed. The compromise specifies that these data can only be collected and used for initial information purposes, such as the recognition of diplomas, and with respect for the protection of confidentiality required under EU law. It also establishes limits for the conservation of data, which the Commission wants to extend from six to 18 months.
“Parliament and Council prefer to maintain a standard period of six months, with the possibility of extending this period to 18 months in certain cases, unless one of the texts states otherwise. These cases will be defined by EU acts (legislative acts or recommendations) and defined in an annex of the regulation according to the normal legislative procedure and not by delegated acts as hoped for by the Commission,” said an expert. However, these personal data could be erased before the end of the conservation period on the express request of a competent authority with access to the system, with the agreement of the individual concerned. Even blocked personal data could be exhumed where necessary to prove an exchange via the IMI, with the agreement of the person concerned, except in the case of absolute necessity, and as long as it was erased at the end of a three-year period.
“The compromise supports Parliament’s request to strengthen the system’s translation features, which should be evaluated in the Commission report presented to the Parliament and Council at the end of pilot projects on new extensions of the field of the IMI,” the expert added. “Moreover, the Commission will present an annual report on thefunctioning of the IMI.”
To divide up the costs of maintenance, the IMI portal will include a tab leading users to the portal for SOLVIT, an online tool that helps citizens and companies deal with practical problems caused by the poor application of EU law by national administrations.
Parliament should vote on Bielan’s report in plenary session at the beginning of September, and if the report is approved, the Council will subsequently only need to formally approve it without debate. n