Brussels, 3 October 2012
Single Market Act II: twelve priority actions for new growth
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Single Market. A lot has been achieved. For European consumers the Single Market means more choice at lower prices. For citizens, the Single Market has given them the capacity to travel freely, to settle and work where they wish. For young people it has opened up the opportunity to study abroad – more than 2.5 million students have seized this opportunity in the last 25 years. For the 23 million companies in the EU the Single Market has opened up access to 500 million consumers and generated foreign investment. The message is clear, the evidence is there: a strong, deep and integrated Single Market creates growth, generates jobs and offers opportunities for European citizens which were not there 20 years ago.
The completion of the Single Market is a continuous exercise and is a central element of the European growth agenda to address the current economic crisis. This is why the European Commission has today adopted Single Market Act II, putting forward twelve key actions for rapid adoption by the EU institutions. These actions are concentrated on four main drivers for growth, employment and confidence: a) integrated networks, b) cross border mobility of citizens and businesses, c) the digital economy, and d) actions that reinforce cohesion and consumer benefits.
"The single market can do more for European citizens and businesses" said Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services. He added: "The Single Market Act II is a call to us, policy-makers, to get down to business, focus minds and deliver. I am convinced that the twelve key actions that we are presenting today will receive the degree of political ownership that they deserve. This is our chance to use our golden asset, the single market, to see our social market economy be competitive and thrive again".
Single Market Act II follows in the footsteps of a first set of measures presented by the Commission - the "Single Market Act I (IP/11/469) - and represents a new chapter in a process towards a deeper and better integrated single market.
It marks the 20th anniversary of the EU's single market and raises the curtain on the Single Market Week (15-20 October 2012). Under the theme "Together for new growth", a week-long series of events across the EU will give an opportunity to policy-makers and citizens to discuss the achievements and challenges of the single market and come up with new ideas.
The Single Market Act II includes the following actions:
Transport and energy networks: efficient and fully integrated transport and energy networks are the backbone of the single market. The opportunities offered by cohesion and structural funds must be accompanied by a firm commitment towards competition, choice and good quality services across the EU. To realise this vision, the Single Market Act II includes:
(i) an action to open the provision of domestic rail passenger services to further intra-EU competition
(ii) the improvement of a single market for maritime transport
(iii) measures to accelerate the Single European Sky
(iv) actions to make the application of existing EU energy legislation effective.
Citizen and business mobility: free movement across borders is at the very basis of a single market and one of the foundations of the European Union. Practical and legal barriers to the mobility of citizens, business activities and investment funding still persist however. With the Single Market Act II, the Commission is therefore proposing to:
(i) develop the EURES portal into a fully-fledged cross-border job placement and recruitment tool
(ii) introduce provisions to mobilise long-term investment funds for private companies and long-term projects
(iii) modernise insolvency proceedings, starting with cross-border cases, and contribute to an environment that offers second chances to failing entrepreneurs.
The digital economy: with its economic weight and important spill-over effects, for example in terms of productivity and resolving societal challenges, the digital economy revolution remains an opportunity that cannot be missed. Working towards the completion of the digital single market by 2015, the Commission proposes to:
(i) facilitate e-commerce in the EU by making payment services easier to use, more trustworthy and competitive
(ii) address a key underlying cause of lack of investment in high speed broadband connection, i.e. its civil engineering costs
(iii) make electronic invoicing standard in public procurement procedures – a proven money-saver.
Social entrepreneurship, cohesion and consumer confidence: the success of the single market is also a result of the economic and social participation it can generate. Consumers need to be confident and all citizens, everywhere in the EU, must have the chance to tap into the opportunities the single market offers. The Commission intends to pursue this objective by using concrete internal market tools, including:
(i) improvement of product safety rules and their actual enforcement
(ii) measures to ensure widespread access to bank accounts, as well as transparent and comparable account fees and easier bank account switching.
What are the next steps?