Sélecteur de langues
Brussels, 11th November 2002
Internal Market: Scoreboard highlights slowdown in national implementation of EU law
The European Commission's latest Internal Market Scoreboard shows that, as the tenth anniversary of the opening of Europe's frontiers draws near, the implementation deficit has started to grow again, rising from 1.8% in May 2002 (see IP/02/722) to 2.1%. This deficit is the percentage of EU Internal Market laws currently in force which Member States have not yet passed into national law even though the deadline agreed by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers has passed. The recent rise follows a decade of continuous improvement that saw the deficit fall from an average of 21.4% per Member State in 1992. Only five Member States (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands and UK) now meet the European Council's target of a deficit of 1.5 % or less. Three Member States (France, Greece, Portugal) have a deficit of more than double that target. The Scoreboard underlines that more work is needed to complete the Internal Market in other ways. For example, the number of breaches of EU law remains stubbornly high, with over 1500 infringement cases currently open against Member States. Nevertheless, a survey of citizens and businesses featured in the Scoreboard shows that a large majority of EU companies and citizens recognise the important benefits the Internal Market has brought to them since 1992 and want more (see MEMO/02/231).
Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein commented "These results demonstrate again that building an Internal Market without frontiers is a continuous, long-term process, not a one-off event. In the ten years since frontiers were opened in January 1993, we have had a great deal of success. I am delighted that our survey shows that citizens and companies recognise that. But there are still loopholes to plug and barriers to be dismantled. The Commission will do everything it can. But Member States need to do their bit. To start with, they need to meet the targets they have set themselves for implementing correctly into national law the Directives they have themselves agreed to. Europe's economy and all of its citizens pay the price of delays. So I am rather alarmed that the positive trend on implementation over the last ten years seems in danger of being reversed".
Implementation of Internal Market Directives
This 'anniversary edition' of the European Commission's Internal Market Scoreboard ("Ten years of the Internal Market without frontiers") highlights Member States' relative performance in implementing Internal Market legislation. Results have improved considerably over the last ten years: the EU's average implementation deficit has fallen steadily from 21.4% in 1992 to 2.1% at present.
However, the latest score is up from 1.8% only six months ago (see IP/02/722). Only five Member States (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, UK) now meet the target set by the Barcelona European Council in March 2002 of having an implementation deficit of 1.5 % or less by Spring 2003. Three Member States (France, Greece, Portugal) have implementation deficits more than double the European Council's target.
The Barcelona European Council also set a 'zero tolerance' target for spring 2003 for Directives whose implementation is two years or more overdue. Being this late may be a symptom of serious political difficulties or even of reluctance to implement the laws Member States have themselves approved in the Council. Finland is the only Member State that has achieved the target with Sweden, Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark coming close. Four Member States (France, Germany, Luxembourg, Greece) will need to implement ten or more 'old' Directives in the next six months to meet it.
For example, the EU cannot credibly call for action to unleash the potential of the biotechnology sector, while, more than two years after the agreed deadline, nine Member States have still not implemented the measures under the 1998 Biotechnology Directive aimed at encouraging investment and research and development in this sector (see IP/02/1448). On the positive side, the 1996 Directive facilitating the interoperability of trans-European high-speed rail links has finally been implemented by all.
The total number of Internal Market infringement proceedings remains stubbornly high at more than 1500 open cases. France and Italy continue to have the highest number of cases pending against them, together accounting for nearly 30% of all cases.
Most businesses and citizens see a positive impact of the Internal Market
This latest Internal Market Scoreboard also includes a special feature reporting on the main results of a new Commission-sponsored survey of the views of business and citizens on the Internal Market now compared with ten years ago. There are wide variations between Member States, but the overall results are encouraging, showing for example that:
For more information on the surveys, see MEMO/02/231.
Internal Market Index tracks progress on the ground
An attempt has been made to capture the development of the Internal Market in a single measurement an Internal Market Index. Unlike the Commission's assessment of the state of implementation and of enforcement, this index is intended to provide some measure of the effects of Internal Market policy on the ground over the last ten years. Again, the results are broadly positive (up from 100 to 143). The index for Finland, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Austria grew significantly more than the EU index. This indicates that the 'newest' Member States appear to have benefited rapidly from the Internal Market this is a particularly welcome message in view of forthcoming EU enlargement.
The full text of the Scoreboard and detailed survey results are available on the Europa website at: