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Internal Market: Scoreboard highlights slowdown in national implementation of EU law

Commission Européenne - IP/02/1644   11/11/2002

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IP/02/1644

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.

Member State implementation deficits as at 1 October 2002 (percentage)

FELPADIIRLLBEUKNLDKFINS
3.83.33.12.92.72.62.62.321.61.41.30.70.60.4

Those Member States which were already furthest away from the target six months ago (France, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Austria and Portugal) have allowed the gap to widen even further. Italy and Belgium also seem to have lost momentum.

Change in the number of outstanding Internal Market Directives since 15 April 2002

PIAFBELDIRLEDKLNLUKFINS
+14+12+10+10+7+7+4+20-1-1-1-1-5-5

Given the volume of legislation that will come on stream in the next six months, some Member States will need to act swiftly if they are to meet the European Council's target of a 1.5% implementation deficit by Spring 2003.

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.

Number of outstanding Internal Market Directives with an implementation deadline before 1 March 2001

FDELLEBAIRLIUKDKNLPSFIN
1411101098664322210

The 'oldest' Directive which has not yet been transposed in all Member States dates back to 1993 (93/15/EEC, explosives for civil use). Other Directives include measures that are critical to improving further the environment for business or the consumer, and those which will measurably contribute to sustainable development.

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.

Infringements

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.

Open Internal Market infringement cases per Member State

FIDEELIRLBUKANLPFINDKLS
21619014313413313212110779625139333332

Only Denmark has managed to reduce the number of infringement proceedings relating to misapplication of secondary legislation by 10% or more, as called for in the Commission's 2002 Internal Market Strategy Review (see IP/02/541). Most others have seen their numbers go up. What is more, over half of all cases take more than 2 years to be resolved.

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:

  • 80% of Europeans believe that the Internal Market has had a positive impact on the range of available products, 67% on product quality and 41% on prices

  • 76% of citizens welcome the increased competition which the Internal Market has introduced

  • more than 50% of citizens would be interested in buying products across borders, but are mainly deterred by travel costs, loss of time, concerns about after-sales service and language barriers

  • 76% of companies exporting to six or more other EU countries rated the impact of the Internal Market on their business as positive

  • 46% of all businesses across the EU say that the Internal Market has had a positive impact on them

  • very few businesses (11%) perceive a negative impact;

  • more than 80 % of companies believe that improving the functioning of the Internal Market should be a key priority for the European Union in the future

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:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/update/score/index.htm


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