Brussels, 27 October 2010
European Commission sets out plans to strengthen the Single Market with measures to boost growth and enhance citizens’ rights
The European Union’s Single Market is the cornerstone of more than 60 years of European integration. Barriers that once stopped goods and services from freely flowing from Lisbon to Helsinki have been torn down. Companies now benefit from a market of 500 million consumers. Consumers travelling abroad have seen dramatic cuts in mobile phone charges. A single currency has made shopping and travelling abroad effortless. Workers now benefit from extensive rights. People can work, study and live anywhere in the EU’s 27 Member States. While Europeans can be proud of these achievements, businesses and citizens also know that hurdles still exist when they exercise their rights. The European Commission set out a series of concrete solutions in two reports published today to boost the single market. In the EU Citizenship Report, the Commission proposes measures to make peoples’ lives easier when they exercise their EU rights to get married, buy a house or register a car in another EU country. To boost growth, competitiveness and social progress, the Single Market Act calls for action to make the lives of all market participants – companies, consumers and workers – easier.
“Free movement is a cherished right in the European Union. Businesses and citizens have reaped huge rewards as the EU steadily broke down internal barriers to goods, services and people. I want to build on our achievements so that everyone – from tourists and students to workers and small business owners – can truly benefit from a European area of freedom, security and justice,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “My goal today is to make sure that we remove the remaining hurdles that people face when exercising their rights. Citizens should feel comfortable if they travel, study or settle abroad. Citizens must have the same rights no matter where they are."
Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "Markets need to serve both the economy and our citizens. That is what defines our society. But right now, the EU Single Market is not delivering as well as it could: it needs to offer more. Citizens and businesses, big and small, need to find an interest for them in the Single Market. There is real urgency: Europe can't afford to leave this potential unexploited. That is why today the Single Market sets out 50 proposals to be put into place by 2012 to make the Single Market work better."
Making citizens’ lives easier
The first-ever EU Citizenship Report looks at everyday problems faced by citizens when they exercise their EU rights and extend aspects of their lives beyond national borders: when they travel, study, work, get married, buy a house or car in another EU country. The report includes 25 measures the Commission plans to take in the next three years to make life easier for European citizens:
Renewing the “Europe for Citizen” Programme
The programme “Europe for Citizen,” which supports town-twinning and citizens' projects, will is currently under review. The Commission is launching a public consultation today to allow people to comment on the next stage of the programme’s activities. The consultation can be accessed in all 23 EU languages via the Commission’s public consultations' website.
A Single Market for growth
With 20 million enterprises providing 175 million jobs, businesses play an essential role in finding our way back to growth. The Single Market Act will simplify life for SMEs, which make up more than 99% of Europe's businesses. But Europe's wealth and growth does not only rest on the shoulders of Europe's businesses. A good social system, quality education, competitive jobs and salaries are equally important. The Single Market Act will further strengthen Europe's highly competitive social market economy and will put people at the heart of the Single Market: as consumers, taxpayers, workers, investors, entrepreneurs, patients or pensioners.
Making the Single Market work
Without effective enforcement, the Single Market would come to a grinding halt. EU Member States are responsible for the timely and correct implementation of European law into national law. In addition to the normal enforcement measures, the Commission will also engage in regular dialogue with Member States, such as the mutual evaluation of EU laws and alternative dispute mechanisms.
To take this discussion forward, the Commission is launching a European-wide debate with all interested stakeholders on the Single Market Act. In the future, the Commission will further strengthen its consultation and dialogue with civil society. In particular, the Commission will open up its expert groups to represent consumer organisations, trade unions, businesses, and local authorities.
Today's Citizenship Report is available at the Justice Directorate-General Newsroom:
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship:
Homepage of Michel Barnier, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market:
More information on the Single Market Act is available at: