The EU's Single Market was created over 25 years ago and has been a cornerstone of the EU's economic development ever since. It is considered one of the EU's greatest achievements and it is at the core of the EU's economic and political integration.
The Single Market has reached a high level of economic integration in what is now the largest combined market place in the world and this has already substantially benefitted the economies of the Member States as well as their cities and regions.
Nevertheless, citizens and entrepreneurs continue to experience barriers that prevent them from fully exploiting the potential of the Single Market and new obstacles are emerging. If remaining barriers were eliminated and existing European laws were applied effectively, the Single Market could still yield substantial additional benefits for the EU economy and for citizens.
The European Commission acknowledges this and has over the years taken a number of initiatives to tackle these barriers as well as improve the implementation and enforcement of the Single Market rules. On 10 March 2020, it published two Communications on the Single Market that continue these ongoing efforts.
The first one is titled Identifying and addressing barriers to the Single Market, and identifies a broad range of obstacles in the Single Market from the perspective of Europe's businesses and consumers. It points to the root causes of such barriers: restrictive and complex national rules, limited administrative capacities, imperfect transposition of EU rules and their inadequate enforcement.
The second one is titled Long term Action Plan for better implementation and enforcement of Single Market rules. This Action Plan is the result of a process that was initiated in March 2019 by the European Council. It contains over 20 measures for better implementation and enforcement of Single Market rules, in close coordination with the Member States.
The Opinion is scheduled for adoption at the ECON Commission meeting of 24 June 2020 and at the plenary session of 12/14 October 2020 and will bring forward the view of LRAs on the EC's aforementioned communications as well as highlight specific (aspects of) barriers at local and regional level. It will also contain policy recommendations aimed at improving the implementation of the Single Market and the enforcement of its rules.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- believes that the European single market is one of the greatest achievements of the European Union (EU), and represents a unique model of integration in the world by guaranteeing free movement of people, goods, services and capital throughout the EU and in associated countries and regions;
- appreciates the efforts of the European Commission (EC) to identify barriers to the European single market and points out that its communication of 10 March 2020 presents key problems concerning businesses that require immediate solutions. Regrets however that the two EC communications focus mainly on the obstacles perceived by businesses and did not address concerns by other social partners and address consumer aspects only peripherally;
- acknowledges that the form of the current regulations and tools for the single market is better suited to exchange of goods than of services. The Committee stresses the need to build flexible tools that can quickly be adapted to changing and newly emerging products and services;
- calls on the EC to be proactive and, together with the EU legislators, ensure that the existing procedures for A1 certification in border regions are simplified;
- encourages the extension of the powers and geographical structure of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO);
- welcomes the establishment of a Single Market Enforcement Task-Force (SMET) but regrets that its membership is so far restricted to representatives of Member States;
- considers it essential to make bold decisions on Member States in breach of binding legislation so that proceedings could be imminently launched, carried out and enforced;
- calls for better application of the principle of mutual recognition to the free movement of goods, which has not been used to its full potential in practice, and for applying this principle to the area of services as much as possible.