An infringement proceeding is an action against a Member State, which fails to fulfil an obligation under the EC Treaty or under secondary EU legislation. The Commission leads the proceeding on its own initiative or at the request of another Member State. Individuals do not have the possibility to force the Commission to start an infringement proceeding. If justified, the proceeding can result in a judgment of the European Court of Justice, stating that the Member State in question has indeed committed an infringement. In case of non- respect of such a judgment, the Court can impose a penalty payment on the failing Member State in a separate proceeding.
Source: Glossary of terms used in EU competition policy, Antitrust and control of concentrations, European Commission, 2002