Europe and BrexitPublic Affairs

EU directives pipeline

Ten EU directives are due to be transposed into Irish law over the course of 2021, with deadlines ranging from the beginning of February to the end of November, and subjects spanning competition and consumer policy, safety, health and chemical policy, intellectual property, and company law.

Competition and consumer policy

There are four directives scheduled for transposition into Irish law in 2021 that fall under the responsibility of the Government’s Competition and Consumer Policy Unit. The first of these is Directive 2019/1, agreed by the European council and Parliament in 2018 in order to empower national competition authorities to better enforce antitrust laws. The deadline for this transposition was 4 February, but the Government had stated that this is “dependent on the progression of legislation through the Oireachtas”. This Directive will give the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission greater powers in its field, including the issuing of fines to those found to be violating anti-competition laws. Public consultation on the Bill ended on 29 January, meaning the deadline has been missed.

Due on 1 July with a deadline that is “expected to be met”, a Directive 2019/770, seeks to harmonise contracts for the supply of digital content or services across the EU, “taking as a base a high level of consumer protection, in order to achieve a genuine digital single market”. Also due on the same date and noted as expected to be met is the transposition into law of Directive 2019/771, which is similar to 770 except it seeks to harmonise the sale of goods.

28 November is the deadline for the final piece of transposition falling under the Competition and Consumer Policy Unit’s remit. Commission Directive 2019/2161 will amend four separate, existing directives in order to further standardise consumer protection law and its application across the European Union.

Safety, health and chemical policy

Three directives due for transposition into Irish law in 2021 fall under the remit of the Safety, Health and Chemical Policy Unit.

The first of these is Commission Directive 2019/1831, which will establish a fifth list of indicative occupational exposure limit values. This Directive is due to be transposed by 20 May, a deadline the Government says it expects to meet. Following that is Directive 2020/1833, due for transposition by 30 June. The Directive amends the annexes to Directive 2008/68 and concerns the “provisions ser out in international agreements on the inland transportation of dangerous goods by road, rail and inland waterways”.

Directive 2019/1832 is also due to be transposed under the supervision of the unit by 20 November, This Directive amends annexes to Council Directive 89/656 and “regards purely technical adjustments” on the minimum health and safety requirements for the use by workers of personal protective equipment in their workplaces.

Intellectual property

The Intellectual Property Unit will have one directive under its remit to transpose in 2021. Directive 2019/790 is due for transposition on or before 7 June, a deadline that is expected to be met. The Directive will amend directives 96/9 and 2001/29 and concerns copyright and related rights in the digital single market, creating a “harmonisation of the laws of the member states on copyright and related rights”.

This framework is being adopted with the goal of contributing “to the proper functioning of the internal market” and stimulating “innovation, creativity, investment and production of new content, also in the digital environment, in order to avoid the fragmentation of the internal market”.

Company law

The two remaining directives fall under company law, with one being by the Company Law Development and EU Unit and the other by the Company Law Policy Unit.

The former, due for transposition on or before 17 July is Directive 2019/1023, which is focused on preventive restructuring frameworks, discharge of debts and disqualifications and measures to increase the efficiency of procedure concerning restructuring, insolvency and discharge of debt”. This Directive will amend Directive 2017/1132 and “remove obstacles to the exercise of fundamental freedoms, such as the free movement of capital and freedom of establishment, which result from differences between national laws and procedures concerning preventive restricting, insolvency, discharge of debt, and disqualifications”. The Government says it is working towards the full transposition of the Directive, but “given the disruption and additional legislative requirements arising as a result of Covid-19, Ireland has formally sought a one-year extension”.

Directive 2019/1151 will fall under the responsibility of the Company Law Policy Unit and has a deadline of 1 August that is expected to be met. The Directive will amend Directive 2017/1132 and concerns the use of digital tools and processes in company law and seeks to ensure a “legal and administrative environment equal to the new social and economic challenges of globalisation and digitalisation”.

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