Brussels, 3 August 2010
Commission welcomes the 5 000th authority to sign up to the Internal Market Information System
The Commission has welcomed the Municipality of Lloret de Vistalegre on the island of Majorca as the 5 000th authority to sign up for the Internal Market Information (IMI) system. IMI is a secure online application that allows national, regional and local authorities to communicate quickly and easily with their counterparts elsewhere in the EU. The system is currently being used for administrative cooperation in the context of the recognition of professional qualifications and the provision of cross-border services under the Services Directive, for example when a Spanish municipality needs to verify if a Belgian construction company wanting to provide its services in this municipality is lawfully established in Belgium. IMI is not only beneficial for the authorities who are using it, but also for service providers and professionals whose life is made easier when offering their services across the EU. To congratulate the newest member of the IMI network, the Commission has produced a video clip which is available on: http://ec.europa.eu/imi-net
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "I am very pleased to see the Internal Market Information System growing so quickly and fulfilling so successfully its role of “process facilitator” within the Internal Market. The rapid and reliable exchange of information between public authorities, including small municipalities like Lloret de Vistalegre, is crucial in delivering the benefits of the single market to citizens and businesses."
What is IMI?
IMI is a secure online application that has been developed by the Commission in close cooperation with EU Member States and has been operational since November 2008. IMI allows competent authorities to communicate quickly and easily with their counterparts abroad. IMI helps users to:
find the right authority to contact in another country and
communicate with it using pre-translated sets of standard questions and answers.
IMI could be used for example in the case of a Hungarian dentist who would like to move to Germany and work there. If the competent regional Chamber of Dentists in Germany needs to verify the dentist's Hungarian diploma, it can identify its Hungarian counterpart in the IMI database of competent authorities and select a question to the Hungarian authority in German. The Hungarian authority will receive the question in Hungarian and can select a corresponding reply that will be sent to the German authority in German. Because Member States have been closely involved in devising the system, IMI offers uniform working methods agreed by every EU country. Should disputes arise, national or regional IMI coordinators can intervene. The Commission runs a central IMI helpdesk.
Who uses IMI?
IMI is used by competent authorities at national, regional and local level in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway who deal with the specific legislation supported by it. Registration in IMI is only open to these authorities and has to be approved by an IMI coordinator. Competent authorities in the Member States have enthusiastically embraced IMI as it helps them overcome the main barriers to seeking assistance from other Member States such as:
uncertainty about whom to contact,
language barriers and
lack of established procedures for cooperation.
In which areas is IMI used?
IMI has been designed as a general instrument which can be customised to support all kinds of internal market legislation with minimum technical development. It is currently used for administrative cooperation on the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC) and on the Services Directive (2006/123/EC). Between January and June 2010, IMI was used in more than 930 cases. In nearly 50% of these cases, the requesting authority received a reply within a week. Information exchanges concern, amongst many other professions: veterinarians, dentists, teachers, architects and tour guides. The Commission is currently exploring with Member States in which other areas IMI can be used.