The easiest way to rectify problems in exercising EU rights or sorting out disputes over the application of EU law is often to simply complain about it.
Thereís several ways to make a complaint so itís important to do a little research and find out which way might be the most effective.
Persistence is sometimes the key, so if one avenue of complaint doesnít work, try some of the others.
All EU legislation is incorporated into national law. That means complaints are usually best directed at the authorities in member states in the first instance.
NGOs that encounter difficulties here in Ireland should first complain to the Irish authorities responsible, as theyíre obliged to implement EU directives and legislation.
If the complaint isnít resolved it can then be made to the European Commission which will take steps to have the problem addressed. Anybody can lodge a complaint with the Commission, but it has to relate to an infringement of Community law by a member state. Complains canít concern a private dispute.
WHERE TO START:
- Complain to the relevant authority in Ireland. Be polite, but persistent. Include all the relevant information in your complaint and quote the EU regulation or directive you think has been breached or not applied correctly
- Complain to the [URL="mailto:http://www.ombudsman.gov.ie/en/" target=_blank]Irish Office of the Ombudsman[/URL] if your problem is with a Government body, a local authority, the Health Service Executive or An Post
- See a solicitor and take legal action in an Irish court. Depending on the case and circumstances, it might be possible to qualify for legal aid. For legal advice contact the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC).
- Complaints to the European Commission must be submitted in writing, by letter, fax or email. Thereís a handy complaint form on the European Commissionís website. Complaints can be submitted by email, posted to Commission des Communautťs europťennes, (Secretary-General), B-1049 Bruxelles, Belgium or delivered to the Commissionís Irish Representation in Dublin
- If your complaint relates to the misapplication of EU legislation by a public administration body in another EU country the SOLVIT network might be able to help
- Lodge a complaint with the [URL="mailto:http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/home/en/default.htm" target=_blank]European Ombudsman[/URL] if thereís a problem with an EU institution or body. However, you have to complain to the institution or body directly first. Remember, the European Ombudsman canít investigate complaints against national, regional or local administrations in member states, even when the complaints are about EU matters
- Petition the European Parliament. It might not solve the problem directly but it can put political pressure on the subject of your complaint.
If you make an official complaint to the European Commission itís registered by the Commissionís Secretariat-General and assigned an official reference number.
You can choose not to disclose your identity to the authorities in the member state youíre complaining about. The Commission might need to gather information to determine facts and points of law concerning your case.
After examining all the available information the Commission will decide whether further action needs to be taken on your complaint. If it does go ahead with the complaint, the Commission may then begin infringement procedures against the member state.
If the Commission decides that a member state has breached or incorrectly implemented EU law it may bring a case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) if the member state fails to address the complaint within a reasonable period of time.