Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A single market to consumers and citizens (2010) continued

The United Kingdom used to project itself as a champion of the EU single market, but if you take a closer look, you are about to detect a paradox.   

If you compare what the European Parliament said in May 2010 about lowering and eliminating barriers in the internal market, with what the UK prime minister Theresa May said on 17 January 2017 about her government’s priorities to create new obstacles to the four freedoms of movement, depriving British and other EU citizens of rights, it offers you a certain perspective on the United Kingdom’s incompatibility with single market aspirations.

Sadly, bad examples are catching. Even some government ministers in EU member states have started to sound like English tabloids with their calls to roll back EU achievements for citizens.

Resolution P7_TA(2010)0186
After a short introductory blog post, we return to the European Parliament resolution of 20 May 2010 on delivering a single market to consumers and citizens P7_TA(2010)0186, which underlined (11):

that the relaunch of the single market should achieve concrete, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed targets, which must be achieved by proper and effective policy instruments based on the four freedoms of movement that are available to all EU citizens;

The European Parliament also highlighted (12):  

the fact that the single European market is in dire need of a new momentum, and that strong leadership from European institutions, especially the Commission, and political ownership by the Member States is required to restore credibility and confidence in the single market;

In addition, the European Parliament called for (18):

a new paradigm of political thinking, focusing on citizens, consumers and SMEs in the relaunch of the European single market; holds the view that this can be achieved by putting European citizen at the heart of European Union policy making;

Citizens would have to be better informed about their rights, the European Parliament called (65):

on the Commission and the Member States to develop a targeted communication strategy focusing on the day-to-day problems that citizens encounter when settling and taking up employment in another Member State, especially when undertaking cross-border transactions moving, shopping or selling across borders, and the social, health, consumer-protection and environmental-protection standards on which they can rely; considers that this communication strategy should expressly include problem-solving methods such as SOLVIT;

Single Market Act

The resolution had already mentioned the Small Business Act (SBA) a few times, before it introduced the concept Single Market Act, accompanied by reform values and guidelines:

76. Believes that in order to establish an effective single market, the Commission must produce a clear set of political priorities through the adoption of a ‘Single Market Act’, which should cover both legislative and non-legislative initiatives, aimed at creating a highly competitive social market and green economy;

77. Encourages the Commission to present the ‘Act’ by May 2011–- well ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Single Market Programme – putting citizens, consumers and SMEs at the heart of the single market; emphasises that it should be looked upon as a blueprint for future action if we are to achieve a knowledge-based, highly competitive, social and environmentally friendly, green market economy which also ensures a credible level playing field;

78. Calls on the Commission to incorporate in the ‘Single Market Act’ specific measures aimed at, but not limited to: - putting the consumer interests referred to in Article 12 TFEU and social policy based on Article 9 TEFU at the heart of the single market; - making the single market fit for the future by improving consumer and SME access to e-commerce and digital markets; - supporting the creation of a sustainable single market based on Article 11 TFEU through the development of an inclusive, low-carbon, green, knowledge-based economy, including measures to further any innovation in cleaner technologies; - ensuring the protection of services of general economic interest on the basis of Article 14 TFEU and Protocol 26; - creating a strategy for better communication of the social benefits of the single market;

The European Parliament wanted the Commission. in preparing the ‘Single Market Act’, to take into account the various EU institutions’ consultations and reports (EU 2020, Monti, Gonzales and IMCO reports, etc.), and to launch an additional wide-ranging public consultation, with a view to bringing forward a coordinated policy proposal for a more coherent and viable single market (79).

Ralf Grahn

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A single market to consumers and citizens (2010) introduced

The latest Grahnlaw blog post concerning the development of the internal market during this decade looked at the report by professor Mario Monti: A new strategy for the single market at the service of Europe’s economy and society (9 May 2010; 107 pages).

Consumers and citizens

In parallel with Monti’s work the European Parliament prepared an own-initiative report - 2010/2011(INI) -  drafted by Louis Grech (S&D) and approved 3 May 2010 by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) for the plenary.

The report on delivering a single market to consumers and citizens A7-0132/2010 was debated in the EP plenary on 19 May 2010 together with three other reports - here a summary of the discussion in Swedish - and voted the following day: 578 for, 28 against and 16 abstentions.

Resolution P7_TA(2010)0186

After documenting the relevant internal market policy and assessment papers at the time, the European Parliament resolution of 20 May 2010 on delivering a single market to consumers and citizens P7_TA(2010)0186 reminded readers of the remaining obstacles  in the way of citizens, consumers and SMEs wishing to move, shop, sell or trade across borders with the same sense of security and confidence they enjoy in their own member states.


Today, this is a potent reminder of how negligently many national (even European Council and EU Council) politicians treat their duty to promote the EU citizenship right to move and reside freely, as well as the four internal market freedoms: the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital.

Ralf Grahn

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Hobbes is back

Do leaders and citizens in Europe always have to fail to rise to the occasion, when Hobbes returns?

This time around, does the transformation from being the ball kicked around to constructive player demand too much from enlightened 21st century Europeans?

In my article Myopia or Utopia? I try to sketch the democratic change between these imaginary countries for the leaders of the institutions and the member states of the European Union, as well as for its citizens.   
In New Europe’s special issue Our World in 2017 more than a hundred authors offer us a picture of the state of our union and the preparedness of minds.

Ralf Grahn

Monday, 2 January 2017

Mario Monti (2010): A new strategy for the single market

We are on the reform trail.

The free movement of goods, persons, services and capital and the comprehensive prohibition of all discrimination on grounds of nationality, are means to achieve a highly competitive social market economy. The internal market, which now consists of 31 countries with a total population of 515 million, is often (aspirationally) called the single market.
When we want to study the development of the internal market during this decade, the obvious time to start is Europe Day 2010 and the document to read is the study by professor Mario Monti: A new strategy for the single market at the service of Europe’s economy and society (9 May 2010; 107 pages).

Rereading Monti’s report brought back the image of the  “historic compromise” he wanted to forge among dedicated market proponents and reticent players (here from page 9):

The new comprehensive strategy outlined above should be seen as a "package deal", in which Member States with the different cultural traditions, concerns and political preferences could each find elements of appeal important enough to justify some concessions, relative to their past positions.

In particular, Member States with a tradition as social market economies could be more prepared to a new commitment on fully embracing competition and the single market, including a plan with deadlines on putting in place the single market in areas where it is still lacking, if Member States in the Anglo-saxon tradition show readiness to address some social concerns through targeted measures, including forms of tax coordination and cooperation, while there is no need to pursue tax harmonisation as such.

The magic treaty formula of a highly competitive social market economy was evoked already in the mission letter by José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission.

Monti sketched opportunities for dynamic reform and remedies for social concerns at a strategic level, not only general enough but also penned finely enough to remain astonishingly fresh today.

Since the  margins available for budgetary stimuli were very limited, Monti reminded all actors that making the single market more efficient was Europe's best endogenous source of growth and job creation.

While summing up his proposals, Monti recalled that the member states had made the bold decision to share the same currency (page 107):

That requires, at the very least, a high degree of sharing effectively a single, integrated, flexible market, a prerequisite for an optimum currency area and a vector for improvements in productivity and competitiveness.

Finally, he called for the single market to be placed as a key item on the agenda of economic government, “the latest expression of the EU’s ambition to control its economic fate”.  

Ralf Grahn  

Saturday, 31 December 2016

The essence of the EU’s internal market

What is the essence of the internal market, often (aspirationally) called the single market in English (although this distinction not made in all of the official languages of the European Union)?

Social market economy

Among the aims of the European Union we find “a highly competitive social market economy” in Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU):

3.   The Union shall establish an internal market. It shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. It shall promote scientific and technological advance.

Free movement x 4

Instead of being confined to the national markets, the factors of production are supposed to move without obstacles in the internal market. Article 26(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) expresses the goal in the form of four - not only one - freedoms of movement, also known as the four freedoms:

2.   The internal market shall comprise an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties.


Non-discrimination on the grounds of nationality is central to the tearing down of obstacles in the union generally and the internal market specifically. From Article 18 TFEU:

Within the scope of application of the Treaties, and without prejudice to any special provisions contained therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.


These basic principles, other treaty provisions and the rest of the EU legislation (acquis) have been brought to life by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).


The European Economic Area (EEA) extends the internal markets to three of the four EFTA states: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland, the fourth member of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), has more limited access to the internal market based on bilateral agreements with the EU.


According to Eurostat the population of the internal market was 515,640,100 at the beginning of 2016 (EU + EEA). If Brexit means that the population of the whole United Kingdom (about 65 million) leaves the internal market (not only the EU, but the EEA as well), about 450 million would remain, somewhat smaller than the combined 480,516,824 population (2016 estimate) of the less integrated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries Canada, Mexico and the USA.


The aim of the internal market, which consists of 31 countries with a total population of 515 million, is a highly competitive social market economy by the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital and the prohibition of all discrimination on grounds of nationality.

Ralf Grahn

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Cost of Non-Europe project

Politicians joining forces with experts?

Real calculations, real numbers and different areas of expertise are needed if people are to decide what is better for them – Europe or non-Europe, summarised Kristina Belikova in the July 2014 story The Cost of Non-Europe in the Gbtimes. She referred to Klaus Welle, the secretary-general of the European Parliament, at the Martens Centre reasoning why the Cost of Non-Europe project made this parliamentary term different (pages 8 and 9):

My twelfth argument is that Jean-Claude Juncker’s ten points are in fact the Parliament’s ten points. And this is not an issue of copyright. Because Juncker's five points were inspired by what Parliament had been elaborating under the heading of ‘Mapping the Cost of Non-Europe’. Do you remember? Based on parliamentary reports adopted in Plenary, we had produced an agenda of what should be done over the next years – a positive agenda for European integration. We had asked ourselves what could be additional benefits of European regulations. What is the value added if we were to get rid of 28 sets of different national regulations in order to have one set of European regulation instead. You remember: this is not new; this is the original approach that paved the way to the Single Market. As I have said: nothing new, nothing sensational. This is a well-established methodology coming from the 80's. And you may also remember that we had identified a potential of one thousand billion Euro, per year, of potential benefit if further European integration were to happen in the area of:

- a genuine digital Europe,
- an updating of our Internal Market in the field of services,
- an updating of our financial service regulations,
- a genuine energy union,
- a better cooperation in security and defence,
- and others.


What needs to be done in the years to come and why is this important? This is important because at the end of the day, if you draw a line under the agenda for the next five years, this is a programme for growth without debt.  

This would have been impossible without the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS; overview), particularly its European Value Added Unit (EAVA), which provides European Added Value Assessments and Cost of Non-Europe Reports which analyze policy areas where common action at EU level is absent but could bring greater efficiency and a public good for EU citizens.


In future blog posts we are going to look at what the Cost of Non-Europe Reports teach us about the potential of a seamless internal market (single market).

Opportunity knocks, when politicians join forces with experts.  

Ralf Grahn

Monday, 28 November 2016

The Single Market Strategy in the EU Competitiveness Council

The first day, 28 November 2016, of the EU Competitiveness Council was dedicated to issues relating to the internal market and industry. Despite more concrete news items available, I am going to approach the horizontal issue of the Single Market Strategy.

Single Market Strategy

Thirteen months ago the European Commission published the new single market strategy (available in 23 of the 24 official EU languages): Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business; Brussels, 28.10.2015 COM(2015) 550 final (22 pages).

The communication was accompanied by two staff working documents, available in English only, but with more detailed facts and reasons.

The economic and competitiveness analysis is contained in SWD(2015) 203, available through the legal portal Eur-Lex in three parts, but more conveniently downloaded from a Commission web page as a “printed” whole document: Single market integration and competitiveness in the EU and its member states - Report 2015 (112 pages).

The second Commission staff working document is A Single Market Strategy for Europe - Analysis and Evidence; Brussels, 28.10.2015 SWD(2015) 202 final (108 pages).

For a structured overview you may want to study the Commission web page The Single Market Strategy.

Competitiveness Council

In order to prepare the discussion in the Competitiveness Council 28 November 2016, the Slovakian presidency had prepared a discussion paper: Single Market: One year after Single Market Strategy adoption (document 14246/16).

After a brief description of the Single Market and the Single Market Strategy, the discussion paper summarised some of the progress and future work:

C. Progress so far

The Commission has delivered first initiatives identified in the Single Market Strategy. In May 2016, the Commission adopted its legislative proposal to prevent discrimination against consumers based on nationality or residence (initiative on geo-blocking), as part of the e-commerce package. In June 2016, the Commission adopted a Standardisation package, which included the Joint Initiative on Standardisation (presented in the Competitiveness Council of 28 September) and a dedicated guidance document on service standards. The Commission also adopted a European agenda for the collaborative economy in June 2016. This Communication identifies good practice solutions and explains how existing EU law should be applied; clarifying key issues faced by market operators and public authorities alike, namely market access requirements, consumer protection, liability, labour law and tax. Moreover, in November 2016, the Commission will adopt the Start-Up initiative, a communication that aims at helping young firms to scale up and grow in the Single Market.

D. Steps forward

Many of the initiatives have not yet been adopted by the Commission. The Commission plans to deliver some important proposals and packages in the remainder of 2016. Towards the end of the year the adoption of the services package is foreseen. The package will include a proposal to improve the notification procedure for legislation with regard to services, a proposal for a European Services Card (identified as the Services passport initiative by the Single Market Strategy), which is to improve the cross-border provision of services and initiatives on regulated professions, such as a proportionality test to be applied when developing new legislation in this field and guidance to Member States on the matter of regulated professions.  

The Commission will continue adopting the remaining initiatives announced in the Single Market Strategy in 2017. These include a review of the intellectual property rights enforcement framework (IPRED), a Compliance and assistance package, including the Single Digital Gateway, the Single Market Information Tool and the Action Plan for SOLVIT. This will be followed by a Goods package, including initiatives regarding mutual recognition and addressing the increased rate of noncompliance within the Single Market for Goods. Also in 2017 the Commission will present a Public Procurement package including the voluntary ex-ante mechanism for large infrastructure projects. Finally, the Commission is planning to publish a Communication setting out best practices to facilitate retail establishment within the Single Market.
The presidency tried to structure and to focus the discussion by providing the following questions to the national delegations:

E. Questions for discussion

1. What is your assessment with regards to the implementation and the progress achieved so far concerning the Single Market Strategy?

2. Where do you see the biggest potential to inject new dynamism into the Single Market, to the benefit of EU consumers and the EU's industrial competitiveness?

3. How can the Council help ensure the swift and ambitious implementation of the Single Market Strategy?

The press conference wrapping up the first day (internal market and industry; 28 november 2016; webcast 17:05) emphasised the sense of urgency among ministers to achieve progress on the single market.  

Ralf Grahn

Saturday, 3 October 2015

How should EU fundamental rights and justice crack nuts?

When should the legislator use a sledgehammer to crack a nut (in more senses than one)?
When we advance from the existential importance of fundamental rights to a few lines about the colloquium, I have to admit to a lingering doubt about how intrusive criminal law should become.
I hope that bright thinkers contribute to the cross-border discussion in Europe, since similar problems confront the European and the national level.

Věra Jourová
- It is high time that member states fully implemented EU law to combat racism and xenophobia. I intend to take decisive actions to monitor this implementation and will focus on three points. First of all, member states must firmly and immediately investigate and prosecute racist hatred and violence. Second, I find it disgraceful that Holocaust denial is a criminal offence in only 13 member states. Last but not least, member states must decisively address hate speech, said the EU justice commissioner Věra Jourová in her closing remarks at the Commission's first colloquium on fundamental rights.
Hopefully her openness about the Commission's aims serves the purpose of a wider and improved discussion about the merits of justice policy and criminal law to advance societal aims. Commissioner Jourová promised a number of other actions to counter antisemitism and islamophobia, as well, some more and some less controversial.

Fundamental rights colloquium
Through the web page of the European Commission's first annual fundamental rights colloquium 1-2 October 2015 you can access material, including the thematic discussion notes to steer the discussions. The notes offer you a fairly detailed view of the issues at the colloquium, but worth continued discussion in Europe more widely:
Stepping up action to prevent and combat antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes (Session I.a)
Tackling hate speech in a connected world (Session II.a)
Fostering equality legislation and promoting non-discrimination policies (Session II.b)

As you see, there are quite a number of related but separate issues demanding individual treatment.
You can follow, dig for material or participate under the Twitter hashtag #NoPlace4Hate

Ralf Grahn 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Existential importance of fundamental rights

We return to the fundamental rights colloquium I mentioned yesterday, with links to the press release and the fact sheet.
- The topic is of, I would almost say, existential importance to the future of Europe, said the first vice-president Frans Timmmermans in his forceful opening of the European Commission's first annual colloquium on fundamental rights (press release and video).
- Europe is going through a period of crisis and turmoil, which is challenging the very values on which it was built. It is challenging the very fabric of European society and therefore the very fabric of European cooperation. The rise of antisemitism, the rise of Islamophobia, each in their own way are symptoms, Timmermans stated.

You can follow the livestream, when the colloquium continues today, 2 October 2015, at 9 am local time, but you have to go no farther than to the live Twitter stream under #NoPlace4Hate to see the challenge, with various fundamentalists at loggerheads over past atrocities and current animosity.

Ralf Grahn

Thursday, 1 October 2015

EU fundamental rights: colloquium, Charter, strategy and report

In this blog post I am going to refer briefly to four pillars of fundamental rights in the European Union: the first annual colloquium, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the Commission's strategy for effective implementation, and the latest annual report.

EU colloquium on fundamental rights
The European Commission's has dedicated its first annual colloquium on fundamental rights, 1 to 2 October 2015, to the fight against anti-semitic and anti-muslim discrimination, hate crimes and hate speech.
The aim is to foster a culture of inclusive tolerance and respect in the European Union.

EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
All EU members have undertaken to secure to everyone the rights and freedoms defined in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), and to abide by the final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in any case to which they are parties.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union became legally binding when the Lisbon Treaty entered into force.
The Charter applies to institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the EU, but to the member states only when they implement EU law.

Fundamental rights strategy
Because of the legally binding character of the Charter, the EU Commission published a strategy in 2010 (press release). More exactly, this communication is called:
The strategy presents the Commission's activities to prevent breaches of and promote adherence to fundamental rights, among the EU institutions, as well as in the member states when applying EU law.
In addition, the Commission promised an annual report on the application of the Charter, with two objectives stated:
to take stock of progress in a transparent, continuous and consistent manner. It will identify what has been done and what remains to be done for the effective application of the Charter;
to offer an opportunity for an annual exchange of views with the European Parliament and the Council.

2014 report on the application of the Charter
The latest annual report was published 8 May 2015 (press release). Here you can find the different language versions for:
but the accompanying SWD only in English
In English you are also offered the luxury version consisting of a 'printed' booklet containing the report, the much more detailed staff working document and the Charter text (185 pages; 5 MB).

Ralf Grahn