Yesterday we posted the entries Single Market Act blog posts, Single Market concerns and the Single Market Act II.
The year 2012 was the year of the 20th anniversary of the internal market (single market) and the birth of the SMA II:
Single Market Act II - Together for new growth; Brussels, 3.10.2012 COM(2012) 573 final (24 pages)
Today is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaties, but we continue to follow the efforts to improve the internal market during the 2010s. Here we look at the SMA II reception by the European Council (EUCO) and the Competitiveness Council late 2012.
European Council October 2012
Under the Compact for Growth and Jobs, the European Council conclusions 18-19 October 2012 EUCO 156/12 encouraged the adoption of Single Market Act I and Single Market Act II proposals, as well as actions to improve transport, energy and telecommunications networks, plus a “fully functioning” Digital Single Market:
2. The European Council remains determined to stimulate growth and jobs, in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The Compact for Growth and Jobs, decided last June, constitutes the overall framework for action at national, euro and EU levels, mobilising all levers, instruments and policies. All the commitments it outlines must be fully and rapidly delivered. Significant progress has been achieved so far, as shown in the letter from the President of the European Council of 8 October 2012 as well as in the reports from the Presidency and the Commission. However, greater efforts are required in certain areas, as set out below.
(b) Deepening the Single Market: progress has been made on the Single Market Act I, but more efforts are required to complete work on the outstanding proposals including on accounting, professional qualifications, public procurement and venture capital funds. The Commission's new communication on the Single Market Act II sets out 12 further key actions which should contribute much to sustainable European growth, employment and social cohesion. The European Council welcomes the Commission's intention to present all key SMA II proposals by spring 2013 and calls for their rapid examination in order to allow their adoption by the end of the current parliamentary cycle at the latest. It is also important to take urgent action in line with the Commission's communications on implementation of the Services Directive and on Single Market governance.
(c) Connecting Europe: the future Connecting Europe Facility will constitute an important instrument to promote growth through investment in transport, energy and ICT links. In the field of transport, eliminating regulatory barriers and tackling bottlenecks and missing cross-border links is essential in order to guarantee the efficient operation of the Single Market and promote competitiveness and growth. Digital technologies and infrastructures are also an essential prerequisite. Recalling the need to complete the internal energy market fully by 2014 in accordance with the agreed deadlines and to ensure that no Member State remains isolated from the European gas and electricity networks after 2015, the European Council calls for rapid agreement on the proposal on energy TENs and looks forward to the forthcoming Commission communication and Action Plan to address the prevailing challenges.
(d) Achieving a fully functioning Digital Single Market by 2015: this could generate an additional growth of 4% over the period up to 2020. The European Council therefore calls for work to be accelerated on the proposals on e-signature and collective rights management and looks forward to the forthcoming proposals on reducing the cost of the deployment of high speed broadband and on e-invoicing. The forthcoming midterm review of the Digital Agenda should be used to identify areas where more work needs to be done. It is necessary to modernise Europe's copyright regime to facilitate access to content while upholding intellectual property rights and encouraging creativity and cultural diversity.
Competitiveness Council December 2012
The Competitiveness (Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space) 10-11 December 2012 conclusions 17410/12 recorded progress regarding SMA I proposals, such as the unitary patent, public procurement rules, resolution of consumer disputes, professional qualifications and accounting rules (pages 9-14), but also adopted conclusions on the SMA II (page 15):
Single Market Act II – Council conclusions
The Council adopted conclusions on the second set of new priority proposals presented by the Commission on 3 October 2012 under the "Single Market Act II".
These proposals will supplement the first set of measures of the Single Market Act I package for deepening and strengthening the single market in order to create economic growth and jobs.
Inter alia, the conclusions highlight the need for the single market to rest upon a strong economic and social basis and the importance for the SMA II actions to address the concerns of citizens and businesses.
The conclusions are set out in document 16617/12.
From the general conclusions to the specific conclusions in Council document 16617/12, prepared earlier by Coreper, but formally adopted by the ministers:
Draft Council conclusions on the Single Market Act II - Together for new Growth 16617/12 (about four pages of text between the cover note and the annex list)
The Competitiveness Council called on the Commission to table the SMA II proposals and encouraged the member states and the European Parliament to adopt them before the end of the parliamentary term etc., but here I want to highlight the viewpoints on the integration of single market progress into the economic governance cycle called the European Semester, plus the need to monitor SMA I and SMA II progress:
11. STRESSES the need for its stronger role on Single Market issues in the context of the European Semester process with regard to sustainable growth and competitiveness enhancing measures, including the governance of the Single Market and, where appropriate, the adoption and implementation of the key actions of the SMA I and SMA II. Moreover, WELCOMES the Commission's first Annual Report on the State of the Single Market Integration, including the identification of actions in priority areas; and LOOKS FORWARD to the timely discussion of every annual Report in the Competitiveness Council and its preparatory bodies in the framework of the European Semester process.
12. UNDERLINES the need to monitor closely the progress on the key proposals of the SMA I and SMA II and in this regard INVITES the Commission to present a semi-annual report for discussion in the High Level Group on Competitiveness and Growth and subsequently in the Council; where progress is insufficient, ENCOURAGES the Presidency to take all necessary steps to speed up the process.
European Council December 2012
The 13-14 December 2012 European Council conclusions EUCO 205/12 bundled together its comments on the SMA I and the SMA II. EUCO also commented on the efforts to streamline business regulation:
17. The completion of the Single Market can contribute much to growth and jobs and constitutes a key element of the EU's response to the financial, economic and social crisis. The European Council took stock of the state of play as regards the priority proposals of the Single Market Act I and welcomed the agreement reached among participating Member States on the Unitary Patent as well as the agreement on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution for consumer disputes. It calls on the co-legislators to conclude the remaining SMA I files as a matter of urgency. In particular, work should be speeded up on professional qualifications, public procurement, posting of workers and e-signature and e-identification. As regards the Single Market Act II, the European Council calls on the Commission to present all key proposals by the spring of 2013. It invites the Council and the European Parliament to give these proposals the highest priority with a view to their adoption by the end of the current parliamentary cycle at the latest. It is also important to take urgent action in line with the Commission's communications on implementation of the Services Directive and on Single Market governance. The European Council will keep progress on all single market proposals under close review.
18. The European Council calls for the rapid examination of the Commission's communication on "Smart Regulation" and looks forward to the publication of the first SME scoreboard. The European Council welcomes the proposals by the Commission to reduce regulatory burdens and scrap regulations that are no longer of use as part of its overall approach to "Smart Regulation". It looks forward to concrete progress and a report back at its March 2013 meeting.
General Report on the Activities of the European Union - 2012 (free to download at the EU Bookshop in all the official EU languages)
General Report on the Activities of the European Union - 2013 (you can download the annual report freely in your chosen EU language at the EU Bookshop)
Regeringens skrivelse 2012/13:80 Berättelse om verksamheten i Europeiska unionen under 2012