Monday 30 January 2017

Focused and strategic approach ahead of the Single Market Act (2011)?

What did the contemporaries think about the fifty proposals of the consultation paper (green paper):
For a highly competitive social market economy
50 proposals for improving our work, business and exchanges with one another
Brussels, 11.11.2010 COM(2010) 608 final/2 (45 pages)?

SEC(2011) 467

The different language versions of the Commission’s Single Market Act pages - English here - offer us links to three distilled documents about the public consultation.

First: On eight pages the first overview of responses gives us a picture of the 840 respondents and highlights some of the preferences of different stakeholder groups: individual citizens, trade unions, industry federations, individual companies, consumer organisations, non-governmental organisations, other organisations and public authorities.

Second: The statistical charts of the public consultation (44 pages) dealt with the 740 responses given on the Commission’s form.

Potentially interesting with regard to internal market challenges would be the 366 who thought that the green paper proposed adequate measures only partly; likewise the 245, 228 and 151 respectively for the different chapters wishing for other issues to be addressed.
Third: We are not directly invited by the SMA page to study the individual contributions, and the access page promised by the Commission Staff Working Paper (CSW) can not be found. Thus, we are restricted to the 32 pages of the CSW published, in English only, on the same day as the Single Market Act (SMA) communication:

Beside the statistical basics covered in the earlier documents, the discussion about the wishes of member states, local authorities and European Economic Area (EEA) countries offers us some interesting nuggets.  

In addition to many positive calls from industry federations with regard to ongoing actions or promised proposals, we take note of this paragraph (page 15):

A large number of respondents in this category welcome the comprehensive approach of the SMA. Some of them invite the European Commission to adopt a more focused and strategic approach, and to seek coherence with the other policy areas and the EU 2020 flagship initiatives.

Single Market Act

I did not notice that the Commission would have elaborated on the theme of  strategic level in the SEC(2011) 467 document, but perhaps we can hope that the Commission’s proper potential strategic level response was the communication published in the official EU languages (here to the English version):
Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence
"Working together to create new growth"
Brussels, 13.4.2011 COM(2011) 206 final (26 pages)

Ralf Grahn

Friday 27 January 2017

Towards a Single Market Act (2010)

On this blog, we traced Mario Monti’s new strategy for the Single Market and the European Parliament’s resolution on delivering a single market to consumers and citizens (here and here).

For the first semester of 2010 we still needed to check on the collective views from the EU member states, namely the conclusions of the Council of the European Union and the European Council:

Economic and Financial Affairs (Ecofin) 16 February 2010 (6477/10)

Competitiveness (Internal Market, Industry and Research) 1-2 March 2010 (6983/1/10 REV 1)

European Council 17 June 2010 (EUCO 13/1/10 REV 1)

COM(2010) 608 final/2

It came to pass in those days , when José Manuel Barroso was president of the European Commission and Michel Barnier was commissioner for the internal market,  that the EU Commission responded to the strategy, the resolution and the conclusions  by publishing a communication on 27 October 2010.

However, about two weeks later the English language version was replaced by a new and corrected text:

For a highly competitive social market economy
50 proposals for improving our work, business and exchanges with one another
Brussels, 11.11.2010 COM(2010) 608 final/2 (45 pages)   

The other language versions remain unaffected.
On page 2 we find a reminder that this is a text with relevance to the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Commission’s credo that during the past two decades, the creation of the single market and the opening of borders have been two of the main driving forces behind economic growth in Europe.

Consultation paper  

The European Commission presented this consultation paper (“Green Paper”) hoping that the relaunch of the single market would become the subject of a wide-ranging public debate for four months throughout Europe.

After this discussion, the Commission intended to invite the other institutions to give their formal agreement to the final version of the Act.

The Commission saw the future adoption of the Single Market Act as a dynamic way to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the single market at the end of 2012.

The Commission also recalled that the Single Market Act and the EU Citizenship Report 2010 were meant to complement each other (page 5), with the Citizenship Report dealing with non-economic rights (page 20).

The drawbacks of market fragmentation were among the problems the Commission underlined (page 6):

Businesses often cite the fragmentation of the single market as a handicap to their competitiveness and, indeed, the variety of different national regulations places a considerable burden on them, delaying investment, limiting economies of scale and synergies and raising barriers to market entry. It is therefore important for markets to be integrated and obstacles removed by precisely identifying the areas where a lack of coordination and harmonisation are hampering the proper functioning of the single market.

Fifty proposals!

Rereading the fifty proposals after all these years still makes me wonder if I see an emerging strategy or a mythological cornucopia. I still feel at a loss to present this loosely structured collection of good intentions, an inventory of actions for the internal market.

But reading continues to make sense as an immersion into the different aspects related to achieving a real single market in some distant future. If they keep going like this, a lot of patient grunt work is going to be needed from here to something close to eternity.
Eternal harmonisation or a real upgrade through unitary market rules of strategic importance, is the question that nags me.

With regard to the public consultation, the Commission asked for the contributions by 28 February 2011, in order to turn the 50 measures into a Single Market Act, comprising a definitive policy action plan for 2011-2012. (page 35). A second phase was promised for later (page 36).

Ralf Grahn

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