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Commission strengthens transparency of database on Member States' planned technical regulations

The European Commission has agreed to implement measures proposed by the Ombudsman to strengthen the transparency and usefulness of its database detailing planned national technical regulations by Member States.

The Ombudsman made the proposals following a complaint by the international technical association for generation and storage of power and heat. The association had submitted comments on technical rules Germany intended to introduce in the electricity sector, but turned to the Ombudsman regarding the limited information in the database and the lack of a reply by the Commission.

In a Decision in September 2019 the Ombudsman asked the Commission to clearly explain what interested parties can expect in terms of a Commission reply to their comments and to monitor Member States’ use of the confidentiality clause to ensure it is not being abused.

Under the EU Single Market Transparency Directive, the Commission and Member States may examine national technical regulations that other Member States intend to introduce. The Commission runs a database (Technical Regulations Information Systems (TRIS) giving the public access to information on the draft measures. However, Member States can request that their proposed measures remain confidential. In this case, Germany had requested confidentiality and its drafts were not visible in the database. The complainant was not also informed when the 3-month so-called ‘standstill’  period - during which a Member State may not adopt the proposed regulation - was over.

Internal Market Commissioner Breton, in a letter to the Ombudsman, noted that the Commission plans to give a detailed explanation on its website about how it will treat comments by interested parties. The Commission also intends to highlight best practices when it comes to notifications by Member States, and will take stronger action if a Member State is suspected of abusing the right to make confidential notifications.