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What is an EU Pilot

The EU Pilot system is a mechanism for the exchange of information between the European Commission and the Member States related to possible problems arising from incorrect or missed application of EU law.

This instrument was introduced in 2008 by the Commission Communication "A Europe of Results — Applying Community Law" (COM (2007) 502) with the purpose of encouraging a greater commitment and a closer cooperation between the Commission itself and the Member States in order to avoid the formal opening of an infringement procedure of the EU law.

The system answers questions and helps solving problems more quickly and more effectively, thus providing for a prompt rectification of possible infringements before resorting to the formal opening of the infringement procedure.

The mechanism is based on a confidential electronic database managed by the European Commission's Secretariat-General, that ensures notifications between the Commission services and the Member States’ competent authorities. The network verifies that the files entered reach the right recipients and monitors the progress of the case under assessment.

In Italy, the database is managed by the Task Force for the EU Infringement Procedures link operating at the Department for European Policies of the Prime Minister’s Office. This task force also ensures networking of national, regional or local authorities, if interested, pursuant to Law No. 234/12 on the participation of Italy to the EU decision-making process.

If a Pilot case is opened in response to a complaint submitted by an EU citizen, the Commission services are due to inform him or her as soon as they trigger the EU Pilot mechanism. A general deadline of 20 weeks is set for the transmission of replies (10 weeks for Member States’ authorities and 10 weeks for the Commission services).

The system has produced number of positive effects and has obtained the main following results:

  • enhanced cooperation between Member States and the Commission;
  • stronger focus on individual cases;
  • faster and more effective solutions for citizens and businesses’ problems.

However, in 2016 the Commission decided to limit the use of the EU Pilot system and issued a new Communication entitled "EU law: Better results through better application", COM (2016) 8600, establishing that an EU Pilot case may be opened only when an alleged violation of the EU law is of technical nature, while when the violation relates to political issues or issues where the Member State's position is clear and known to the Commission, the case must be managed directly in compliance with the Articles 258 and 260 of the TFEU.

At the meeting of the Group of Legal Experts on the Application and Transposition of EU Law (EU Law Network) of 14th February, 2017, Italy, along with 20 other Member States, joined a non-paper calling for the European Commission to revise its enforcement policy and reintroduce a larger use of the EU Pilot system.

During the following meetings of 10th October, 2018 and 7th June, 2019, the majority of Member States' delegations, including the Italian one, renewed such request and the European Commission undertook to rethink its enforcement policy and assess the possible conditions for re-introducing the EU Pilot system.

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