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European Commission - Press release

Making the Single Market work better: boosting Europe's potential for growth

Brussels, 27 February 2012 - The Single Market celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2012. In the past 20 years, the Single Market has helped create millions of jobs and make Europe increasingly competitive. But the job is not finished. The Single Market needs to be constantly monitored and updated to make it work. Despite all the progress made, there are still many barriers to a fully functioning Single Market.

Last April, the Commission adopted the Single Market Act. It identified 12 key areas with the most growth potential in the Single Market and associated new proposals to exploit untapped potential. Today, the Commission presents an update of these efforts aimed a delivering growth, social progress and competitiveness.

But as much as rules are important, it is delivery on the ground which makes a different to citizens and businesses. That is why the European Council called in January for better governance of the Single Market. Today, the Commission also presents its first report on governance which sets out what is being done and what still needs to be done to make the Single Market fully operational. This of course includes infringement procedures for non-compliance with rules but goes much further with practical tools that can make a real difference. One of these is Solvit, a mechanism to sort out problems which citizens and businesses face in the Single Market. Although this tool has proven its effectiveness, and is appreciated by its users, it is confronted to new challenges and expectations. Today's package includes the publication a new strategy for Solvit, which puts forward 10 concrete proposals to make SOLVIT work even better.

Internal Market & Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "I believe Europe's greatest asset to meet the economic challenges we face is the Single Market. The Commission proposed last year a series measures to boost growth, jobs and confidence in the Single Market. We have made real progress delivering on those commitments. We now need the European Parliament and Member States to adopt those proposals so they can become a reality which benefits citizens and businesses. But rules alone are not enough: we need to make sure the Single Market works better on the ground with a special focus on governance and enforcement. This must be our primary focus in 2012."

Since the adoption of the Single Market Act on 13 April 2011, the Commission has delivered 10 of the 12 key legislative proposals promised and a further 30 complementary actions to boost growth, jobs and confidence in the single market. When these proposals are finally adopted and implemented, more than 21 million businesses and 500 millions consumers in Europe will benefit from a single market for venture capital, simpler accounting requirements and cheaper access to patent protection across Europe. It will be easier for citizens to get their qualifications recognised and seek a job in another Member State. It will also be easier for goods to circulate and service providers to operate cross-border, thanks to new standardisation and actions aimed at removing persistent and unjustified restrictions to the provision of services. We will finally be able, thanks for example to new approaches on dispute settlement to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital single market and a boost in e-commerce which could be worth up to EUR 2.5 billion.

The Single Market depends not only on solid regulation but also on good governance. For this purpose, various practical tools and networks have been created over the years which, though addressing distinct issues, are highly complementary. Today, in its 2011 "governance check-up", the first of its kind, the Commission presents an integrated view of their results and highlights the coherence between the various tools as parts of a “Single market governance cycle” .

The reports illustrate how each of the existing instruments play their specific role in making the Single market function better and is illustrated below:

Overall, significant progress has been made in 2011 but there is also a lot of scope for improvement for most Member States. Last year, only Estonia scored an 'all green' for the indicators of the "fitness check" of the governance tools covered in the report.

What comes next?

Today's governance report will feed into the Commission's report due in June on possible means to enhance the implementation of Single Market legislation and improve its enforcement as requested in the Statement of the Informal European Council of 30th January 2012.

Before the end of 2012, the Commission will take stock of the progress made on all these fronts and present its programme for the next stage. Its considerations will be fed by a large-scale economic study, the results of which should help to identify any areas with still unexploited growth potential and, where appropriate, pinpoint new drivers of growth.

2012 is the 20th anniversary of the single market. The Commission plans to celebrate this anniversary with a Single Market Week across Europe. The week will be organised in October 2012 and include the second annual Single Market Forum.

For more information:

Single Market Act:

Booklet Single Market Act: Together for new growth

Link to the governance report:

Contacts :

Chantal Hughes (+32 2 296 44 50)

Audrey Augier (+32 2 297 16 07)

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