ISSN 2330-717X

EU Parliament Outlines Single Market Act Recommendations

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Parliament’s recommendations for the proposed EU Single Market Act, a wide-ranging initiative to revivify the market as a prerequisite for achieving the EU 2020 strategy targets, and boosting competitiveness and sustainable growth, are set out in three resolutions passed on Wednesday.

“We need to complete the single market which is the lifeblood of Europe’s economy. We must fill gaps in services, public procurement, and the other 150 bottlenecks which still exist. The new Single Market Act should help make our economies more competitive and create growth and jobs”, commented European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek.

These three non-legislative resolutions are Parliament’s first response to the proposed Act, which aims to relaunch the Single Market ahead of the 20th anniversary of Jacques Delors’ original 1992 programme. Parliament’s vote anticipates Commissioner Barnier’s 13 April presentation of the final steps and measures to be taken.

The three resolutions correspond to the three pillars of the Single Market Act, i.e. governance and partnerships, enterprises and growth, and how to make the single market work for European citizens. Each resolution sets out 5 key priorities, some specific proposals for legislation, and more general policy recommendations.

Strengthening governance

A call for stronger political leadership to relaunch the single market is a key point in the resolution on “Governance and Partnership”, prepared by Sandra Kalniete (EPP, LV) and passed with 595 votes in favour, 61 against and 10 abstentions. It suggests that the President of the Commission should be given a mandate to coordinate and supervise the relaunch, in close co-operation with the President of the European Council and Member States’ authorities. It urges that the European Parliement’s role in the single market legislative process be strengthened.

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MEPs ask that infringement procedures be launched immediately where pre-litigation problem-solving mechanisms fail. They also call on Member States to reduce the share of single market directives not yet transposed into national law, or incorrectly transposed into national law, to less than 0.5% by the end of 2012.

Enterprises and growth

The need to create EU project bonds to support long-term innovation and job creation and fund major cross-border infrastructure projects for energy, transport and telecommunications is a key message of the draft resolution on “A Single Market for Enterprises and Growth” by Christian Buşoi (ALDE, RO), which was approved with 570 votes in favour, 44 against and 28 abstentions.

This resolution also calls on the Commission and on Member States to boost the confidence of businesses and citizens in online trading (para 20). MEPs also urge the Commission to make public procurement procedures more effective and less bureaucratic.

“Efforts to complete the Single Market need to concentrate on the concerns and rights of citizens, consumers, public service users and businesses and bring them tangible benefits in order to regain their full confidence in the Single Market”, argues the resolution on a “Single Market for Europeans” by António Fernando Correia De Campos (S&D, PT), adding that the Commission’s draft proposals still need to be further strengthened to this end.

The resolution, which was passed with 600 votes in favour, 48 against and 27 abstentions, calls for better recognition of professional qualifications across borders and the establishment of a European Skills Passport, an extension of the existing “roaming” regulation to cut costs and cap prices for mobile data roaming, improved coordination of national market surveillance and customs checks on imports from non-EU countries, greater transparency and comparability of banking charges, and full portability of pension rights.

A compromise amendment which calls on the Commission to ensure that all social rights are respected and considers that the Commission, where justified, should include a reference to social policies and rights in single market legislation, was also adopted. The compromise further states that due account should be taken of new Articles 8 and 9 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the entry into force of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights which provides a whole range of civil, political, economic and social rights to Europeans.

A second compromise amendment which calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure services of general economic interest including social services of general interest was also approved.

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