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

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