Present pandemic has underlined the importance of core values in the European integration, including a backbone of the European economy, i.e. its single market. Member states resilient growth depends on modern and flexible political economy’s concept: main supporting EU’s instruments have just been adopted by the EU co-legislators in a “single market programme” worth €4.2 billion for the period of 2021-27. The programme provides an integrated package aimed to support and strengthen the governance issues in both the EU’s single market and that of the member states.
European single market is a major contributor to growth, competitiveness and employment helping to create jobs and bringing consumers greater choice at lower prices in the member states. While it continues to be an engine for building a stronger, more balanced and fairer states’ economies, it continuously needs to adapt to existing global challenges (rapidly changing), including digital revolution and sustainable transition.
The European single market is the largest market in the world, with people, goods, services and money moving almost freely in the continent: the EU citizens can travel, study, socialize and work across the member states; consumers can safely buy products on the market and enjoy a high level of food safety.
Additional efforts in the EU “single market programme” represents a modern, simple and flexible approach to growth facing contemporary challenges; the programme consolidates into one coherent programme a number of EU policies and activities which previously were financed separately. This approach is supposed to: first, reduce overlaps of different policies; second, improve coordination; third, ensure policies’ efficiency for the single market in the states, and fourth, provide a better value for money for the citizens and businesses while tackling priorities essential for the socio-economic recovery.
Hence, the programme will support a better enforcement of the Union’s legislation, while promoting SMEs competitiveness through already existing European facilities, e.g. of SMEs, including through the Enterprise Europe Network (see: https://een.ec.europa.eu/) and Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (see: https://www.erasmus-entrepreneurs.eu/index.php?lan=en), the latter already functions for about a decade.
Most vital for the single market efficient functioning – out of four “basic freedoms”, i.e. for goods, services, people and capital – the least coordinated are the financial services. Topical issues and problems in the states are those of combating corruption and bribery in the financial sector. Presently efforts are concentrated on detecting and preventing corrupt practices and relations between financial market participants and their clients, investors, sub-contractors, service providers and other third parties, as well as corruption and conflicts of interest in the inner workings of financial institutions, both in the public and private sector. Thus, there is a lot of work in order to streamline the EU’s anti-corruption regulation and the role of supervisors, as well as increasing sanctions and the external dimension of EU anti-corruption compliance.
EU’s official comments
Commission Executive vice-president for the “digital age”, Margrethe Vestager underlined that a well-functioning EU single market has a significant and positive impact on jobs, growth and health in the member states; it allows businesses to exchange freely products and services. Thus, the new single market regulation will make it more effective and contribute to a sustainable recovery and successful green and digital transitions.
Commissioner for internal/single market, Thierry Breton added that the EU single market arrangements have already proved during last more than 60 years to be an effective engine for growth, jobs and resilience. Present agreement on additional efforts would serve as an impetus to strengthen the single market in all its diverse aspects in order to benefit citizens, consumers and companies (in particular SMEs) in the member states, which continue to deeply suffer by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The present “refurbished” single market programme brings together activities financed under six predecessor programmes in the areas of competitiveness of enterprises, protection of consumers and end-users (including in financial services, financial reporting and auditing standards), the food chain and the European statistics as well as financed previously directly under the Union’s budget such as the European standardisation and market surveillance.
It also includes activities previously funded directly under the internal market and other related budget lines in the Union budget, such as implementation and development of the internal market for financial services, as well as new actions aiming to improve the functioning of the internal market, such as the enforcement of Union competition rules.
The Single Market Programme regulation is published in the EU Official Journal and will apply retroactively from 1 January 2021.
See more in: https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/45590
Main aspects in the new “Single Market Programme”
- Making the internal market function better including through improved market surveillance, a range of problem solving support to citizens and business like SOLVIT and the “Your Europe Portal*)”, as well as through enhanced competition policy that contributes to a level playing field and empowers businesses;
See more on SOLVIT in: https://ec.europa.eu/solvit/index_en.htm
*) Your Europe’s portal consists of two sections: one is dedicated to the EU citizens and their family issues (travel, health, residence formalities, education, consumers …) and the other one focuses on businesses in Europe. The latter is a practical guide to doing business in Europe and covers topics, such as start ups and growing business, legislation on staff, VAT and customs, product requirement, financing and funding.
- Improving the competitiveness of businesses, especially SMEs to complement financial support offered through the “Invest EU” program;
- Ensuring the European standardisation and development of international financial and non-financial reporting and auditing standards;
- Ensuring a high level of consumer protection and product safety, promoting the interests of consumers and end-users, including in financial services, through for example European Consumer Centers, the EU’s “safety gate” web link, as well as the EU rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products.
For safety products see: https://ec.europa.eu/safety-gate/#/screen/home;
- A high level of health for humans, animals and plants throughout the food chain with actions like the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, RASFF created in 1979; see more in: https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/rasff_en) for dangerous food and feed; and
- Producing and communicating high-quality statistics on European socio-economic policies, in cooperation with the member states’ national statistical offices.
Estimated breakdown of the new “single market” budget
Out of €4.2 billion in the program, the following main activities will be financed: 5% for consumers; 5% to standardisation; 11% for the Single Market’s functioning; 14 % on statistics; 24% for the competitiveness of SMEs; and 41% for food safety.
It is seen that most financial resources will go to food safety and support for competitive SMEs!