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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso at the press conference on the Single Market Act
Brussels, 13 April 2011
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today we are presenting the Single Market Act. We have identified 12 priority actions to boost the Single Market that should be adopted by 2012.
All 12 have one thing in common: creating growth and jobs by better exploiting the potential of the Single Market.
Our priority is growth and jobs. That has been at the centre of the Commission action, our Europe 2020 strategy for instance. And these priorities – growth and jobs, in times of budgetary constraints can receive a great stimulus from deepening of the Single Market. Indeed, I would say, probably the best way to foster growth and jobs is to deepen the Single Market, to remove some of the obstacles that exist to this growth.
That is why in my Political Guidelines I have announced this programme for the Single Market as a priority for the mandate of this Commission. Why I asked Mario Monti to start pinning down the missing links to the single market at the end of 2009. And why I asked Michel Barnier to pilot this work. And I want to thank him and congratulate him for the very efficient and dynamic way in which he has performed this job. The 12 priority actions identified today are an important step towards our goals.
Several of the ideas we propose today have been around for quite some time, but they were never acted upon. And that is exactly what we insist must happen now. This is a programme of very concrete, decisive measures, with a precise calendar.
Individually, many of these initiatives may not seem all that exciting: public procurement; standardisation; access to capital; IPR; alternative dispute settlement; opening up the regulated professions; implementing the Services Directive; improving the way the posted workers rules are applied. They may seem not very exciting, but they are decisive for our Single Market for growth and jobs.
But these are the things that will update the Single Market and make it future-proof. These are the things – services, digital, better regulation that put together represent much more than the sum of the parts. They are the 'Single Market ecosystem'. These are the things that can make life easier for our companies, namely small and medium size companies and also for our consumers.
What is more: these proposals, at least most of them, have no price tag. They can be done without huge public investments. It is about removing obstacles. And their benefits are real: cross-border e-commerce could bring economies worth 2,5 bn EUR, or 0,2% of GDP. An effective services sector generates an extra 2% of jobs per year. Improving transport and energy infrastructure could create 775,000 jobs and increase GDP by 19 billion euro by 2020 according to our estimates.
These are indeed proposals for citizens and proposals for companies that open up opportunities.
We will give consumers better protection when shopping cross-border. We are creating the preconditions for a new boost to the European services market, in particular e-commerce and digital services. We want to ensure pan-European electronic identification and signatures. We will present an Intellectual Property Strategy that updates the way rights are managed to take account of the digital world and all key measures to give citizens and businesses the confidence to operate online in the Single Market.
We have today a Single Market at least for goods. But the market of the future will be more and more a digital market. That is why we have to create the conditions for consumers to operate in the digital market as they can operate in the "material" market
We want to bring to workers and employees a better recognition of their qualifications so that the benefits of the single market are open to all those that want to work abroad. We will be looking closely at the hundreds of regulated services sectors to see if restrictions are justified. Michel Barnier has already started in a very decisive way this work, looking concretely at all the sectors in our different member states. And through the strengthening of the posted workers directive we will ensure that the Single Market guarantees the social rights and protection of workers and employees. It is extremely important that the Single Market is indeed done in full respect of all the social rights including full workers' rights.
Our proposals are also doing all we can to help companies, especially SMEs. We propose to give a passport to venture capital funds so they can invest in SMEs in other member states. We propose to simplify the business environment with an overhaul of the public procurement rules and by lifting the accounting burden from 7 million small and micro enterprises, with potential savings of 7.4 billion euro. And with the legislative proposals we are adopting today we take another significant step towards finally achieving a European unified patent protection covering as many Member States as possible.
Let me add a word on taxation. Tax remains the biggest variable that affects consumer prices and cross-border business. I believe there is a new opportunity to tackle the taxation issues that have a direct impact on the single market. It can make a major contribution to growth and jobs.
As you know last month we proposed the common consolidated corporate tax base to establish a single set of rules that companies operating within the EU could choose to use to calculate their taxable profits. Today, we are adopting proposals on energy tax to ensure energy products are taxed on their CO2 emissions and their energy content rather than on the basis of some arbitrary historical figure. We have also launched preparatory work to overhaul our VAT rules to see how these can generate further growth.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I want to underline that the Single Market is not just another policy area. It is what makes Europe real for our citizens and businesses. It is the basis of our growth. It allows us all to reach beyond our national borders.
The global world is moving quicker than any of us could have expected. Our job is to keep pace. Let's not forget that with the world's biggest home market of 500 million people and a GDP per capita of almost 25.000 euro on average. This growth will not only come from our exports, it must and it can be driven by Europe itself, by our common market. The Single Market is the powerhouse of Europe's economy. It has been a driver for growth since 1992 and if we reignite its engine it will bring a major boost to tomorrow's growth as well.
Times of economic crisis provide sometimes a strong temptation to roll back the single market. And we have seen that coming from some member states recently. In these times many like to question competition rules, exploit the missing links and seek refuge in economic nationalism. That is exactly the wrong approach. If we have learned one thing from this economic crisis it is that we are more inter-dependent than ever before – the actions of one member state can solve a problem or try to export it to another member state. That is not the way to deal with it. That is why we need a stronger not a weaker single market.
The Commission will do everything necessary to drive this agenda and to be the implacable defender of the single market. We believe the Single Market can be one of the most important tool to deliver a new kind of growth – growth and jobs for the European citizens.
Thank you for your attention.