Friday 24 March 2017

Single Market Act II

One day before the EU27 Rome declaration I want to start this blog post by quoting two paragraphs from the 2012 Single Market Act II communication spelling out why even the incomplete European Union we have is better than secession for increasingly mobile people and businesses (page 9):

The mobility of citizens and businesses is at the heart of European integration and the Single Market. The Commission will continue to work towards its vision of a Single Market where citizens, workers and businesses are free to move cross-border whenever and wherever they want to and without unjustified restrictions imposed by divergent national rules and regulations. Mobility is a precondition for the Single Market to deliver on its potential, be it social, cultural, political or economic.

The price of low mobility is high. Despite the fact that unfilled job vacancies have been rising since mid-2009, unemployment is at record levels in many Member States. At the same time, the cross-border mobility of businesses is hampered by difficulties to finance new business projects and by administrative burden. While the EU's better regulation agenda has led to an improvement of the business environment, a constant focus on the reduction of unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden must be maintained. Important next steps towards our common vision are therefore to match labour demand and supply cross-border, improve the access to finance and advance the business environment in Europe.

Instead of building walls and creating obstacles, the EU tries to open gates and decrease cross-border problems.

Single Market Act II

After the compilation Single Market Act blog posts and the latest entry Single Market concerns, it is time to advance to the second package: the Single Market Act II.

In the autumn of 2012 the European Commission published a communication about  its second set of internal market proposals. The SMA II birth was the moment the original SMA became the SMA I:
Single Market Act II - Together for new growth; Brussels, 3.10.2012 COM(2012) 573 final (24 pages)  

Four drivers for new growth were identified for the new package (page 5):  

1. Developing fully integrated networks in the Single Market (pages 6-9)
2. Fostering mobility of citizens and businesses across borders (pages 9-12)  
3. Supporting the digital economy across Europe (page 12-15)
4. Strengthening social entrepreneurship, cohesion and consumer confidence (page 15-17)

In the concluding remarks the Commission summarised the aims and presented a timetable (page 17):

The Single Market Act II sets out twelve immediate priorities, which the Commission will focus on to support growth, employment and confidence in the Single Market. They constitute the next steps towards our vision of a highly competitive social market economy. We need to act jointly, in particular among the European institutions and with Member States, to put them into practice as soon as possible. The Commission commits to deliver all key legislative proposals by spring 2013 and all key non-legislative actions by the end of that year at the latest. The Commission calls on the European Parliament and the Council to fast-track all key legislative actions and adopt them as a priority by spring 2014.

The twelve SMA II priority actions (the same number as in the SMA I) listed on pages 18-19:

Developing fully integrated networks in the Single Market

1 Rail transport: Adopt a fourth railway package to improve the quality and cost efficiency of rail passenger services

2 Maritime transport: Adopt the "Blue Belt" package to establish a true Single Market for maritime transport  

3 Air transport: Accelerate the implementation of the Single European Sky through a new package of actions  

4 Energy: Implement an action plan to improve the implementation and enforcement of the third energy package

Fostering mobility of citizens and businesses across borders  

5 Mobility of citizens: Develop the EURES portal into a true European placement and recruitment tool  

6 Access to finance: Boost long-term investment in the real economy by facilitating access to long-term investment funds  

7 Business environment: Modernise EU insolvency rules to facilitate the survival of businesses and present a second chance for entrepreneurs  

Supporting the digital economy across Europe  

8 Services: Revise the Payment Services Directive and make a proposal for multilateral interchange fees to make payment services in the EU more efficient  

9 Digital Single Market: Adopt common rules to reduce cost and increase efficiency in the deployment of high speed broadband  

10 Public procurement and electronic invoicing: Adopt legislation making electronic invoicing the standard invoicing mode for public procurement

Strengthening social entrepreneurship, cohesion and consumer confidence  

11 Consumers: Improve the safety of products circulating in the EU through a revised General Product Safety Directive, a new single Regulation on Market Surveillance and a flanking action plan

12 Social cohesion and social entrepreneurship: Adopt a legislative initiative to give all EU citizens access to a basic payment account, ensure bank account fees are transparent and comparable and make switching bank accounts easier

Ralf Grahn

General sources:

General Report on the Activities of the European Union - 2012 (free to download at the EU Bookshop in all the official EU languages)

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