On 27 May, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU adopted the Council conclusions on “A new level of ambition for a competitive single market” where it underlines that the European Union needs “a long-term vision for a globally competitive Single Market, as a cornerstone of the European global competitiveness, addressing the current and emerging global, technological, security and sustainability challenges and touching upon all relevant policy areas, recognizing that it requires a renewed commitment from both Member States and EU institutions.”
For the Council of the European Union, businesses and citizens need to be in the center of the policy-making process as “a particular regard should be paid to improving the business environment for SMEs, including start-ups and mid-caps.” Also, the Council insists on the fact that “in order to contribute to a future-proof Single Market, the Commission, Member States and European Parliament should work in close cooperation towards a more user-centric approach, which is based to a greater extent on a thorough analysis of facts and needs.” Still on SMEs, the Council declares that, as the Single Market remains a constantly-changing environment for businesses in general, SMEs in particular need “improved framework conditions as well as tools to assist them overcoming regulatory complexity and legal fragmentation in the Single Market thus facilitating cross-border trade and scale-up.”
Furthermore, the Council states that, as digitization is essential in enabling a more cross-border trade and a more integrated Single Market, it is important that is permeate all policies. The Council indeed recognizes that digitization would not only have the potential to significantly reduce administrative burdens, but it would also greatly improve framework conditions for business investment.
Consequently, the Council of the EU calls on the European Commission to “complete, by March 2020, the assessment of the remaining regulatory and nonregulatory barriers and opportunities within the Single Market” and based on this assessment, to evaluate “the need for further initiatives to deepen and strengthen the Single Market”. The Commission is also asked by the Council to work on better implementation, application and enforcement of existing instruments. While the Council calls on the full commitment of Member States to addressing unjustified identified barriers through appropriate solutions, it also calls on both the Commission and the Member States to cooperate more on an improved Single Market “based on facts and needs”.
These Council Conclusions are a response to recent calls from the European Council (European Council Conclusions of 22 March 2019) for an integrated, forward-looking approach to the Single Market, which should connect all relevant policies and remove remaining unjustified barriers and avoiding creating new ones, in particular on freedom to provide services and on digitalization. The full text of the Council conclusions is available here.