On 28th October, the European Commission adopted its new Single Market Strategy, aiming at delivering a deeper and fairer Single Market that will benefit consumers as well as businesses.
The Single Market is one of Europe’s great achievement; in the past 20 years, it has helped companies to benefit from economies of scale, triggered efficiency gains that support EU competitiveness and offered consumers an increased choice of products and services at lower prices.
But the EU and the Single Market need to adapt to a changing environment. Europe is facing economic and social challenges, and the economic and financial crisis has tested our economies and create immense social costs. Unemployment, low levels of growth and inadequate levels of investment, have hampered productivity and competitiveness of the European economy. At the same time, innovation and digital economies are generating major new opportunities and are also challenging traditional business models and relationships between consumers and operators. Indeed, the way many services and assets are provided and consumed is rapidly changing; also the collaborative economy is developing at a fast pace and leads to greater choice and lower prices for consumers and provides growth opportunities for innovative start-ups and existing European companies, both in their home country and across borders.
For this reason, a clear and balanced regulatory environment is a priority for the European Commission to respond to these challenges and to strengthen the Single Market across sectors and policy areas.
The Single Market needs to be revived and modernised in a way that improves the functioning of the markets for products and guarantees appropriate protection for people. The European Commission’s Strategy aims to achieve this, through targeted actions in three key areas:
- creating opportunities for consumers, professionals and businesses: enabling the balanced development of the collaborative economy, helping SMEs and start ups to grow, making the market without borders for services a practical reality, addressing restrictions in the retail sector and preventing discrimination of consumers and entrepreneurs;
- encouraging and enabling the modernisation and innovation that Europe needs: modernising our standards system, more transparent, efficient and accountable public procurement and consolidating Europe’s intellectual property framework;
- ensuring practical delivery that benefits consumers and businesses in their daily lives: a culture of compliance and smart enforcement, improving the delivery of the Services Directive by reforming the notification procedure and strengthening the Single Market for goods.
The European Standardisation System needs to be fit to these challenges, producing timely and market-driven standards in an inclusive way and consolidating Europe’s leadership in international standardisation. Standards are crucial for innovation and progress in the Single Market; this is why the Commission will propose and agree a “Joint initiative on Standardisation” with the European standardisation community, which will aim to speed up and better prioritise standard setting across the board.
The Single Market Strategy proposes a concrete and ambitious set of actions to remove economically significant barriers that hold back Europe’s jobs, growth and investment agenda; the actions envisaged in this Strategy will be launched in 2016 and 2017.