Monday 29 May 2017

Services in the internal market strategy

In the preceding blog posts and in the latest entry Internal market mid-term we have looked for building blocks for an imaginary review when the EU Commission reaches mid-term.

The purpose of this blog entry is to present the European Commission’s intentions regarding services in the 2015 internal market strategy, as an introduction to a coming article about the 2017 services package.  

Internal market in services
According to the political guidelines of the Juncker Commission, we need to complete the internal market in products and services and make it the launch pad for our companies and industry to thrive in the global economy, also when it comes to agricultural products.

The European Commission expanded on the theme in its internal market strategy:

Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business; Brussels, 28.10.2015 COM(2015) 550 final
The role of the accompanying Commission staff working document A Single Market Strategy for Europe - Analysis and Evidence; Brussels, 28.10.2015 SWD(2015) 202 final;  was illustrated in the blog entry Services in EU single market strategy.  

The new single market strategy came against the background of the Investment Plan for Europe and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the European Energy Union, the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Action Plan for a Capital Markets Union and the Trade for All communication (plus TTIP work), while promising a Circular Economy package and a Labour Mobility package, with taxation and road transport thrown in for good measure; everything having to pass through the better regulation eye of the needle (pages 1-2).   

This left the strategy communication to deal with two of the four internal market freedoms, consequently arguing for more seamless trade in goods and services (page 2):

These measures need to be complemented by a true European Single Market for goods and services.

For all the progress made, too many significant economic barriers remain, notably in the area of services. The Commission estimates that more ambitious implementation of the Services Directive would add 1.8 % of EU GDP.

Service actions

One of the first promises of the new internal market strategy was to enable the balanced development of the collaborative economy, also known as the sharing economy, which includes peer-to-peer finance, online staffing, peer-to-peer accommodation, car sharing and music video streaming. The Commission promised guidance concerning these services and a European agenda for the collaborative economy (pages 3-4).

In order to open up professional services, the Commission promised guidance on regulated professions, first in priority sectors. An analytical framework for member states and mutual evaluation were promised for the EU members, plus legislative proposals to address regulatory barriers (pages 7-9).

With regard to cross-border services in general, the Commission promised to launch a legislative initiative introducing a services passport with a harmonised notification form and an electronic document repository to increase certainty and reduce barriers for service providers, who want to access other EU markets in order to expand their activities (page 9).

The Commission promised to set out best practices on retail establishment and operational restrictions in the single market, in order to give consumers better choices (page 10).

The Commission’s pledged legislative proposals and enforcement action to address geo-blocking and other forms of discriminations concerning access, price or conditions by market operators, on the grounds of place of residence or of nationality (page 11).

The Commission planned a Joint initiative on Standardisation with the European standardisation community, as well as dedicated guidance on service standardisation (page 12).

According to the EU Commission, intellectual property-intensive sectors account for 39 % of GDP and for 35 % of jobs in the EU (page 14), but it may be more debatable if they are a force for innovation or an obstacle to growth. The Commission repeated its promise in the Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe to review the IPR enforcement framework according to a ‘follow the money’ approach, in order to respond to the increasingly cross-border nature of infringements (page 15).

A whole section was dedicated to the improvement of the delivery of the Services Directive, by reforming the notification procedure (pages 17-18). The Commission wanted to extend the successful features of the existing procedure for goods and information society services to other services, including the requirement to notify draft legislation and transparency for stakeholders.

The quickest and clearest route to the promised single market strategy proposals is through the roadmap on pages 21-22.

Later mid-term review?

This blog has wanted to study the internal market in the mid-term review season, but maybe the European Commission has decided to follow a different time-table regarding the single market. The concluding remarks in the communication on the internal market strategy for goods and services gave an indication (page 20):

By the end of 2017, the Commission will review progress on its implementation and, on the basis of comprehensive economic analysis, consider whether additional action is needed to meet its objective of a deeper and fairer EU Single Market.

Services Package
Anyway, one of the new developments we have to take into account is the publication of the European Commission’s Services Package 10 January 2017, summarily presented in the press release: IP/17/23.

After this preparatory blog post we turn to the Services Package in the next entry.

Ralf Grahn

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