Report on a new stategy for the Single Market

15th of may, 2010

Professor Mario Monti's mission
20 octobre 2009 - 30 mai 2010

 "I believe the 20th anniversary is the right time to bring forward a major package for tomorrow's single market, with proposals for specific actions to plug the gaps in today's single market, and to ensure that the benefits of the internal market get through to the final consumer.

Markets do not exist in isolation. They exist to serve a purpose. And that purpose is prosperity for all." President José Manuel Barroso, 3 September 2009

 Political Guidelines for the Next Commission

"The current economic crisis has once again underlined how crucial the Single Market is for the success of the European project. I look forward to exploring how we can remove the remaining obstacles and reinvigorate the process. This may require a fresh look at how the market and the social dimension of an integrated European economy can be mutually strengthened." Mario Monti, 20 October 2009

The Single Market is the cornerstone of Europe's integration and sustainable growth. As the European Union approaches the 20th anniversary of the symbolic date of 1992, President Barroso believes, as announced in his Political Guidelines, that the Single Market requires renewed political determination so that it can withstand the threat of economic nationalism and reach its full potential.

President Barroso has therefore decided to entrust Mario Monti, President of Bocconi University and former Commissioner for the Internal market, Financial services and Tax policy (1995-1999) and for Competition (1999-2004), with the mission of preparing a report containing options and recommendations for an initiative to relaunch the Single Market as a key strategic objective of the new Commission.

 Throughout this mission Mr Monti will be able to rely on the Commission’s expertise and support, specifically the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA). He may hold consultations with the European Parliament, with the relevant Commissioners, with the competent authorities of Members States and with think-tanks involved in the field.


Consumer rights: "full harmonisation no longer an option"

10th of april, 2010

 Full harmonisation of all consumer rights in the EU would in practice mean a levelling down of  some such rights, believe MEPs. "This is no longer an option", agreed Commissioner Viviane  Reding when speaking to the EP Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on 17. march 2010. Under pressure from MEPs and several Member States, the Commission is prepared to  bandon this idea. According to the Commission, full harmonisation of all consumer rights in  the EU would end the fragmentation of the single market, improve legal clarity, guarantee the  same protection to all consumers and stimulate crossborder trade. But many MEPs, while  supporting these goals, think full harmonisation would in practice lead to an unacceptable  levelling down of certain consumer rights. Work on a directive that would for the first time bring  together all consumer rights in a single law began two years ago in the European Parliament. But  the proposal to apply the method of full harmonisation under this legislation has led to political  deadlock.

 A new proposal needed

 Seeking to find a way forward, the new Commissioner  responsible for this area, Viviane Reding, has decided not to take the same line as her predecessor. "It's up to the legislator to decide. The Commission will adapt", she told members of  he Internal Market Committee. "Are you prepared to withdraw the initial proposal and bring  forward a new one?" asked Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE). The Commission would be willing to do this after first reading if Parliament and the Council were in agreement. It would then drop the draft  irective's Article 4, which provides for full harmonisation and states that Member States may  not keep or introduce into national law any provisions - whether stricter or more flexible - which are  ot laid down by the directive.

 Targeted harmonisation according to consumers' interests

 The  ommission also accepts the principle of "targeted" harmonisation advocated by several  MEPs. This means the degree of harmonisation would depend in each case on the benefit to  consumers. Maximum harmonisation would thus no longer be used "automatically and blindly", in  he words of Emilie Turunen (Greens/EFA, DK). The Commission is proposing to distinguish  between direct transactions and those done at a distance. In the first category, where there are big  differences between national laws, the "pragmatic", targeted solution would be used. In the second category, especially for internet shopping, where security for consumers and legal clarity  for operators are crucial, there should be maximum harmonisation of the rules.

 A directive for  consumers or for business?

 The directive needs to benefit both consumers and companies from  he outset. Consumer confidence would mean increased business. Clearer rules would  make life easier for both. But several MEPs feel this balance is not apparent in the draft proposal.  "The goal of improving consumer protection must be at least as visible as the goal of boosting the single market", stressed Robert Rochefort (ALDE, FR). Sylvana Rapti (S&D, GR) even called on  the Commissioner to make clear her priorities by choosing between consumers and business.  Viviane Reding argued that these goals did not conflict but were mutually compatible. However, it was clear that "a directive on consumer rights cannot reduce such rights".

 Next steps

 Andreas Schwab, the committee rapporteur, will in April present a proposal for an amended version of the  first chapter of the directive, which includes the controversial provisions on harmonisation. Before  the summer, his full draft report should be submitted to the Internal Market Committee, which is  expected to hold its vote in September. The matter could come before the full Parliament in  November. The rapporteur also announced he would ask the Commission for a series of studies  analysing the optimum degree of harmonisation "chapter by chapter".