To redress concerns voiced by citizens and business representatives, the Single Market Act II represents a new chapter in the ongoing process towards a deeper and better integrated Single Market, with the current focus firmly lying on job creation, growth and social cohesion. While these factors can impact on health, economic concerns dominate the debate while health and social concerns remain marginal.
As announced in June in its new proposal, the Commission puts forward twelve levers for rapid adoption to further develop the Single Market. Commissioner Michel Barnier stated that the Single Market Act II was based on a diagnosis of the strengths and weaknesses of the internal market carried out by Mario Monti in 2011. However, concerns voiced by health and social stakeholders that the relaunch of the Single Market is an opportunity to promote access and inclusion remain secondary to economic interests.
The planned actions are concentrated on four main drivers for ‘’growth, employment and confidence’’:
1. integrated networks;
2. cross-border mobility of citizens and businesses;
3. the digital economy; and
4. actions that reinforce cohesion and consumer benefits.
The digital economy will play a key role in helping Europe out of the crisis. Yet 35% of internet users still don’t buy online because of payment concerns, so the Commission is proposing ways to make payment services more efficient. Similarly, the development of eHealth services is not proceeding evenly across Europe and new technology is creating obstacles that can contribute to creating new health inequalities (see also the EPHA Briefings on eHealth and on the Digital Agenda for Europe). Working towards the completion of the Digital Single Market by 2015, the Commission proposes to:
facilitate e-commerce in the EU by making payment services easier to use, more trustworthy and competitive
address a key underlying cause of lack of investment in high speed broadband connection, high civil engineering costs; and
make electronic invoicing standard in public procurement procedures
The Commission will put forward all key legislative proposals for the Single Market Act II by spring 2013 and the non-legislative ones by the end of 2013. The European Parliament and Council are called upon to adopt legislative proposals as a matter of priority by spring 2014.
A public online Google debate on the Single Market took place on 10 October, also introduced by Commissioner Barnier.
The European Single Market is now twenty years old. As part of its anniversary, the annual Single Market Week took place between 15-20 October 2012, with activities covering all 27 Member States. A launch event was organised in the European Parliament, Brussels on 15 October 2012.
Under the theme of Together for new growth, the Single Market Week’s objective was to ‘’focus on real stories and experiences’’ and bring together policy makers and 400 citizens from across the EU-27. Much space was given to discussing the Single Market Act II.
The opening session included welcome speeches by José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK), Chairman of the EP Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and Commissioner Barnier.
European citizens still do not benefit fully from the Single Market, said IMCO MEPs in a resolution adopted on 25 September. They point to difficulties opening bank accounts, registering cars and having professional qualifications recognised and blame these problems on Member States’ reluctance to implement EU rules swiftly, coordinate with each other and inform citizens of their rights.
The non-binding resolution (Rapporteur: Regina Bastos, EPP/Portugal), adopted unanimously by the IMCO committee, follows an independent survey of European citizens’ and businesses’ top 20 complaints about the functioning of the Single Market, conducted by the Commission at the Parliament’s request. MEPs want the Commission to table "concrete actions and feasible proposals" to tackle these concerns.
For further information
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