Germany is the biggest rule-breaker in the European Union, according to new figures released by the country's economics ministry.

Despite its reputation as a rule-abiding nation, Germany has been revealed to be the worst EU country at adhering to European legislation.

The German government is subject to at least 74 criminal proceedings by the European Commission, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported after viewing the ministry's statistics.

Proceedings are launched when a government fails to properly blend EU regulations into its national legislation. The infringements primarily relate to policy areas such as air pollution, traffic noise and water quality.

Germany's transport ministry currently faces 20 infringement proceedings, while its environment and finance ministries also face scrutiny for their failure to implement EU regulations.

"We're no longer the model pupil – we're bottom of the class," Green Party politician Markus Tressel told Handelsblatt.

In the past, Germany has gained a reputation for criticising other EU countries for failing to comply with regulations.

Former finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble insisted that Greece should sort out its finances after the euro debt crisis in 2010, and Germany's environmental minister, Barbara Hendricks, called on Belgium to improve the safety of two of its nuclear reactors, located near the German border.

The new statistics echo previously published EU data on enforcement actions, provided by the European Commission at the end of 2016.

In the 2016 rankings, Germany and Spain topped the list of violators. Belgium, Portugal, Greece and France followed closely behind.

Despite Brexit, the UK was relatively good at implementing EU regulations and was ranked 14th on the list. Estonia, Malta and Denmark were the most compliant at following EU rules.

The news comes as Angela Merkel is reported to have finally formed a coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), five months after Germany's elections.

Chancellor Merkel said the agreement paved the way for a "good and stable government" during a press conference on Wednesday (7 February). SPD leader Martin Schulz said the conservatives had made tough compromises to reach the deal, which he promised would "achieve a lot for people".