Ireland could be facing EU fine for failure to comply with Working Time Directive – Carthy
Commenting today on a response from the European Commission to his written question in relation to Ireland’s compliance with the EU Working Time Directive, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy has stated that Ireland could be facing considerable financial penalties as a result of the breach.
“The fact that the European Commission has had to step in and hold the Irish government to account in this manner is nothing short of a scandal.
“It is a damning indictment of this Government that it needs to be taken before the European Court of Justice so that front line junior doctors working in Irish hospitals can have their basic working rights recognised and enforced.
“This Government is busy patting itself on the back prematurely for an economic recovery that has still to be felt by the vast majority of Irish people while our health system is suffering from systemic under funding.
“To add insult to injury it now appears that a considerable amount of public monies could be spent on litigation and financial penalties rather than on much needed resources for our hospitals.
“I am calling on the Government to take immediate action to ensure that Ireland complies with the terms of the Working Time Directive without delay and ensures that we never have the shame of being brought before an international court on this issue again.”
Full Text of Written Question and Response Below
Question for written answer E-004347/2015
to the Commission
Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL)
Subject: EU Working Time Directive in Ireland
The EU’s Working Time Directive is designed to protect medical staff and patients. Reports suggest that Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) exceed weekly working limits across the EU. Some doctors work in excess of the 48-hour limit, often working over 70 hours a week and some even as much as 100 hours. This is not a sustainable working environment for staff and it compromises patient safety.
1. Can the Commission outline whether Ireland is compliant with the regulation?
2. Are there penalties for Member States failing to comply with the regulation and, if so, is Ireland facing any penalties?
Answer given by Ms Thyssen
on behalf of the Commission
1. The Commission takes the view that the excessive working time of junior doctors in Ireland is incompatible with the EU Working Time Directive. Therefore, the Commission has referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice on this issue. The Court has not yet rendered its judgment.
2. Ireland is not currently facing penalties. However, once the European Court of Justice has delivered a ruling, Member States are obliged to comply with the rulings of the European Court of Justice. Generally speaking, should the Commission consider that a Member State has not taken the necessary measures to comply with a judgment, it may request the Court to impose a lump sum or penalty payment to be paid by the Member State concerned, in accordance with Article 260 TFEU.
 Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time, OJ L 299, 18.11.2003, p. 9.