This article briefly explains about EU infringements and the accompanying fines:

Law is the foundation of the integrity and effectiveness of the European Union, so fines for breaking it are set high enough to stop other states being tempted to try their luck. Penalties can stretch into the million of euros. [..]

When a Member State breaches EU law, the European Commission refers the case to the Court of Justice of the EU. The first judgment of the Court serves as the final call for the country to comply with EU law.

If a government still won’t comply with the law – what then?

The Commission may once again take the case to the Court, this time to impose fines.

The list of infringements is quite large as seen here.

On several occasions, I have seen these infringements treated as deadly threats in my native countries: extraordinary Parliamentary sessions to change the law, even government emergency ordinances in more extreme cases.

Question: is there a case when a fine was partly paid by someone who could have acted to avoid the fine? (e.g. one of the ministers fails to implement some law change within his/her ministry). Or is this impossible due to legislative or sovereign immunity?

  • By "partially supported" do you mean "partially paid"?
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 19:27
  • @phoog - yes, I have fixed the title.
    – Alexei
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 19:53
  • I've cleaned it up a bit and tried to make the question more idiomatic. If I misinterpreted something, please let me know.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 20:01
  • "Sovereign immunity" strictly speaking covers the state itself. The hypothetical scenario would probably involve some form of impeachment, in which it would be established that the person was not acting in the interest of the state, and thereby exempting him or her from sovereign immunity claims.
    – MSalters
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


The EU members are countries (Article 1, Treaty on the European Union). Individual people can be EU citizens (Article 9, TEU) but that does not make them treaty parties.

The sort of fines you're talking about are fines for non-compliance with binding agreements on the treaty parties. As EU citizens are not countries, they don't have these obligations and can't be fined for that reason.

Note that EU companies can and regularly are fined for economic crimes. This is possible because commerce is an EU matter. Crime in general is not an EU matter, which is why individual citizens are rarely (if ever?) fined by the EU. There's certainly no EU criminal court.

  • I don't think that was the question.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 19:06
  • @Relaxed: Well, if they can't even be fined, they wouldn't be paying any fines, would they? It's not like the Euro budget rules, where countries could be fined, but aren't.
    – MSalters
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 19:10
  • 1
    The way I read it, the question is whether a country ever held its own ministers accountable (cf. example at the end). Not very likely I would think, but not a question of EU law. Not sure what this gratuitous reference to the Fiscal Compact is about, by the way, it seems even less relevant than your answer.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 19:19
  • Fine on companies are an entirely separate matter, rooted in article 101 and 102 of the TFEU and not merely a result of the EU's competence in this or that matter. They are imposed by the Commission, not the Court, unlike infringement penalties (which are incidentally governed by article 260, there is no point in appealing to generic principles to resolve that question).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 19:27
  • @Relaxed: The EU isn't a state and can only derive its competency to fine anyone from treaty rules. I show that there are a few such enumerated cases (economic fines, Fiscal Compact) where the ability might or might not be used. But lacking any such competency vis-a-vis private citizens, the EU couldn't fine them.
    – MSalters
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 19:32

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