AUDIO: EU Commission says the 'serious infringement' endangers lives
The European Commission (EC) is referring Ireland to the European Court of Justice for not complying with rules on working hours for junior doctors.
The EU Working Time Directive limits doctors to a 48 hour working week. The Directive was introduced back in 2003.
However many medics are working in excess of 80 hours without breaks or sleep.
The EC says whilst Irish law respects the requirements, in practice hospitals are not applying the rules and there has been insufficient progress.
The EC says it considers the situation a serious infringement which endangers both the health of the doctors and patients.
Back in October, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) accepted proposals put forward to curb working hours.
It means hospitals could be hit with fines for allowing junior doctors to do shifts longer than 24 hours. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has agreed to eliminate the practice by the end of 2014.
But Peter Power of the EU Office in Dublin says the Commission has lost patience with the Irish government.