On this blog, we traced Mario Monti’s new strategy for the Single Market and the European Parliament’s resolution on delivering a single market to consumers and citizens (here and here).
For the first semester of 2010 we still needed to check on the collective views from the EU member states, namely the conclusions of the Council of the European Union and the European Council:
Economic and Financial Affairs (Ecofin) 16 February 2010 (6477/10)
Competitiveness (Internal Market, Industry and Research) 1-2 March 2010 (6983/1/10 REV 1)
European Council 17 June 2010 (EUCO 13/1/10 REV 1)
COM(2010) 608 final/2
It came to pass in those days , when José Manuel Barroso was president of the European Commission and Michel Barnier was commissioner for the internal market, that the EU Commission responded to the strategy, the resolution and the conclusions by publishing a communication on 27 October 2010.
However, about two weeks later the English language version was replaced by a new and corrected text:
For a highly competitive social market economy
50 proposals for improving our work, business and exchanges with one another
Brussels, 11.11.2010 COM(2010) 608 final/2 (45 pages)
The other language versions remain unaffected.
On page 2 we find a reminder that this is a text with relevance to the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Commission’s credo that during the past two decades, the creation of the single market and the opening of borders have been two of the main driving forces behind economic growth in Europe.
The European Commission presented this consultation paper (“Green Paper”) hoping that the relaunch of the single market would become the subject of a wide-ranging public debate for four months throughout Europe.
After this discussion, the Commission intended to invite the other institutions to give their formal agreement to the final version of the Act.
The Commission saw the future adoption of the Single Market Act as a dynamic way to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the single market at the end of 2012.
The Commission also recalled that the Single Market Act and the EU Citizenship Report 2010 were meant to complement each other (page 5), with the Citizenship Report dealing with non-economic rights (page 20).
The drawbacks of market fragmentation were among the problems the Commission underlined (page 6):
Businesses often cite the fragmentation of the single market as a handicap to their competitiveness and, indeed, the variety of different national regulations places a considerable burden on them, delaying investment, limiting economies of scale and synergies and raising barriers to market entry. It is therefore important for markets to be integrated and obstacles removed by precisely identifying the areas where a lack of coordination and harmonisation are hampering the proper functioning of the single market.
Rereading the fifty proposals after all these years still makes me wonder if I see an emerging strategy or a mythological cornucopia. I still feel at a loss to present this loosely structured collection of good intentions, an inventory of actions for the internal market.
But reading continues to make sense as an immersion into the different aspects related to achieving a real single market in some distant future. If they keep going like this, a lot of patient grunt work is going to be needed from here to something close to eternity.
Eternal harmonisation or a real upgrade through unitary market rules of strategic importance, is the question that nags me.
With regard to the public consultation, the Commission asked for the contributions by 28 February 2011, in order to turn the 50 measures into a Single Market Act, comprising a definitive policy action plan for 2011-2012. (page 35). A second phase was promised for later (page 36).