Thursday, 1 March 2012

European Council and Single Market: ambitious enough?

Ahead of the spring European Council, the joint letter from the twelve prime ministers David Cameron (United Kingdom), Mark Rutte (Netherlands), Mario Monti (Italy), Andrus Ansip (Estonia), Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia), Jyrki Katainen (Finland), Enda Kenny (Ireland), Petr Nečas (Czech Republic), Iveta Radičová (Slovakia), Mariano Rajoy (Spain), Fredrik Reinfeldt (Sweden) and Donald Tusk (Poland) to the president of the European Council (EUCO) Herman van Rompuy and the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso was titled A plan for growth in Europe.

This means that fifteen EU member states, among them France and Germany, did not participate in this call for growth policies.


Single Market reform

At the top of the wish list of the dozen premiers came an improved Single Market:

First, we must bring the single market to its next stage of development, by reinforcing governance and raising standards of implementation. The Commission’s report to the June European Council should set out clear and detailed actions needed to enhance implementation and strengthen enforcement.

Action should start in the services sector. Services now account for almost four fifths of our economy and yet there is much that needs to be done to open up services markets on the scale that is needed. We must act with urgency, nationally and at the European level, to remove the restrictions that hinder access and competition and to raise standards of implementation and enforcement to achieve mutual recognition across the single market. We look forward to the Commission report on the outcome of sectoral performance checks and call on the Commission to fulfil its obligation under the services directive to report comprehensively on efforts to open up services markets and to make recommendations for additional measures, if necessary in legislation, to fulfil the internal market in services.

Barroso reply

In the Annex to the Barroso reply we find the following list of ongoing or forthcoming actions:

1. Single Market

a) Commission Communication to the June European Council

This will present recommendations on how to make better use of the existing tools for improving and monitoring implementation of the Single Market, proposals on how to organise annual reporting on the Single Market, including on network industries and proposals on how to improve infringement/enforcement policy.

b) Commission report on the Services Directive and efforts to open up services markets, with recommendations for additional measures

The Commission is currently assessing the quality of the implementation of the Services Directive in all Member States, from an economic and legal point of view and on the operation of the Points of Single Contact and will report on this in the coming months.

c) Commission report on the outcome of sectoral performance checks

We are processing performance checks in 3 key sectors: Tourism, Construction and Business Services, to assess how different pieces of EU legislation applying to services work in practice when taken together.
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Would you say that the demands or the planned actions are ambitious enough to turn the tide? If they are, in your view, will the needed qualified majorities be found? Is a sea change likely in the EU countries, especially the ones behind the curve?



Ralf Grahn
speaker on EU affairs, especially digital policy and law

P.S. For better or for worse, between the global issues and the national level, the European Union institutions and the eurozone coteries shape our future. At the same time we see a European online public sphere emerging. Grahnlaw (ranked fourth among politcal blogs in Finland), Grahnblawg (in Swedish) and Eurooppaoikeus (in Finnish) are among the more than 900 euroblogs aggregated by multilingual Bloggingportal.eu. Is your blog already listed among them? Are you following the debates which matter for your future?