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Single Market Act: improving our work, business and exchanges with one another

The end of 2012 will mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the single market. During the past two decades, the creation of the single market, with the opening of borders, has been one of the main driving forces behind growth in Europe. Recent globalisation and technological change have created new challenges for the European Union (EU). This Single Market Act therefore proposes to meet these challenges by putting businesses and Europeans at the heart of the single market in order to create a reliable tool to promote growth.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 27 October 2010 - Towards a Single Market Act For a highly competitive social market economy 50 proposals for improving our work, business and exchanges with one another [COM(2010) 608 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

This Communication sets out various measures proposed by the European Commission in order to relaunch the single market and make it a driving force for growth again, so as to promote a social market economy. These measures concern businesses, citizens and the governance of the single market. The Single Market Act is an initiative presented jointly with the EU Citizenship Report 2010.

Measures proposed for businesses

In the European Union (EU), 20 million businesses employ 175 million citizens and supply goods and services to 500 million consumers both in the EU and abroad.

The Commission hopes to encourage and protect the creative potential of businesses by combating piracy. The Commission therefore intends to propose an action plan against counterfeiting and piracy in 2010, as well as a framework directive on the management of copyrights in 2011.

The Single Market Act aims to promote new approaches towards sustainable growth. One of these approaches concerns the development of the market in services on the basis of the ‘mutual evaluation’ process set out in the Services Directive. It also provides for initiatives to develop electronic commerce. To enhance the ‘sustainable’ nature of growth, the Commission will revise the Energy Tax Directive in 2011. As a further step, the Commission will present an energy efficiency plan in 2011.

European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent a significant source of innovation and jobs. To develop this potential, the Commission hopes to adopt an action plan in 2011 for improving SME access to capital markets. It also aims to link the Small Business Act with the 2020 strategy. In addition, it proposes a review of the accounting Directives to simplify SMEs’ financial reporting obligations.

To fund innovation and long-term investment, the Commission hopes to create project bonds to finance European projects. In addition, it proposes to eliminate any tax treatment that hampers cross-border activities and to make the awarding of contracts more flexible.

The Single Market Act lays the foundations of a business-friendly legal and fiscal environment. From this perspective, the Commission hopes to propose a Directive on a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) in 2011. A new VAT strategy is to be presented in the same year.

The EU must strengthen its competitiveness on international markets by further developing regulatory cooperation with its main trading partners. The idea is to develop an instrument which draws on the implementation of the EU’s international commitments.

Measures proposed for citizens

Public services and key infrastructure must be improved. To this end, the Commission intends to present a Communication including a series of measures on services of general interest. Concerning transport, the Commission hopes to adopt a revision of the guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network. The Commission also intends to adopt energy infrastructure priorities up to 2020/2030.

In addition, it is of paramount importance to increase solidarity in the single market. The Commission must therefore conduct a systematic analysis of the social impact of proposed legislation. It also intends to re-examine the Directive on the activities and surveillance of pension funds in 2011, and to launch a consultation with the social partners in order to create a European framework for industrial restructuring.

One objective of the Single Market Act is to guarantee access to employment and lifelong learning. The system for the recognition of professional qualifications should therefore be reformed, based on an evaluation of the acquis in 2011. In addition, mobility for young people is to be encouraged by developing a ‘Youth on the Move’ card.

New resources for the social market economy must be developed. The first step in this respect must be to improve the quality of the current legal structures (foundations, cooperatives, mutual associations, etc.) linked to the social economy. The Commission also intends to launch a public consultation on corporate governance, and to propose a Social Business Initiative in 2011.

Consumers are also at the heart of the single act for the internal market. The Commission therefore intends to evaluate existing practices concerning price comparison websites and to draw up guidelines for these websites based on Member States’ best practices. It also intends to draw up a multiannual action plan for the development of European market surveillance. Its priorities also include identifying and eliminating tax obstacles.

Measures proposed for good governance of the single market

The Commission is responsible for enforcing the rules of the single market. Member States are therefore called upon to increase the rate of transposition of the single market directives and to notify the transposition measures.

Good governance of the single market must be based on a genuine electronic network for European administrations. The Commission therefore intends to present a strategy on extending the Internal Market Information System in 2011.

Dispute resolution must be improved. European consumers lose 0.3 % of Europe’s GNP each year due to sales of defective goods or sub-standard services. To overcome these problems, the Commission intends to adopt an initiative on the use of alternative dispute resolution in the EU, and a recommendation on the network of alternative dispute resolution systems for financial services.

To provide citizens and businesses with specific information on the internal market, the Commission hopes to develop the ‘Your Europe’ internet portal and to coordinate it with ‘Europe Direct’. The SOLVIT network must also be reinforced.

Finally, the Commission intends to consolidate dialogue with civil society (consumers, NGOs, trade unions, businesses, savers and local authorities).

Consultation

The Commission invites interested parties to submit their views on the relaunch of the single market by 28 February 2011.

Last updated: 13.12.2010

See also

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