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European Commission publishes 12-point plan for single market

The European Commission today presented 12 projects to relaunch the Single Market Act, which aims to “make life easier for businesses, citizens, consumers and workers”.

The action plan will be reassessed at the end of 2012, and formally implemented at the end of 2012.

The 12 projects proposed by the European Commission are based on more than 850 contributions received from the European public, businesses and institutions.

Here are the 12 projects:

  1. Access to finance for SMEs. The aim is to put in place common rules for venture-capital funds, enabling those established in one member state to invest in any other member state and thus to provide innovative SMEs with funding combined with the necessary expertise and at an attractive price.
  2. Enhancing mobility for qualified workers in the single market. To remove the legal obstacles still preventing Europeans from working where they wish to work, it would help the European economy to be more competitive as well as by issuing a European Professional Card.
  3. Intellectual property rights. It is crucial for European competitiveness to provide unitary patent protection for inventions for as many member states as possible, the aim being to grant the first unitary patents in 2013.
  4. To boost the confidence of consumers in the single market, EC is foreseen to guarantee their rights. This means above all developing alternative approaches to dispute settlement and putting in place non-judicial means of redress. Consumers will then have access to easier, quicker and cheaper procedures. This is essential to online trading.
  5. Services: strengthening standardisation. To make the most of this asset, the Commission proposes to revise the legislation on the European standardisation system to extend it to services and make standardisation procedures more effective, efficient and inclusive.
  6. Stronger European transport, energy and electronic communications networks. High-performance infrastructures are the means to fast and reasonably-priced free movement of persons, goods, energy sources and data.
  7. Digital Single Market will boost confidence in electronic transactions. Europe needs legislation to guarantee mutual recognition of electronic identification and authentication across its territory, and a revision of the e-signature Directive to permit safe and unobstructed electronic interaction.
  8. Boosting social entrepreneurship. Commission proposes a European framework for mutual investment funds, so as to amplify the effect of the existing national initiatives by offering these funds the opportunities provided by the Single Market.
  9. EU tax legislation has to be amended to give sufficient encouragement to the most energy-saving or environmentally friendly practices.
  10. The Commission intends to make a legislative proposal for strengthening the application of the Posting of Workers Directive in order to have more social cohesion in the Single Market. It will also clarify the exercise of fundamental social rights as part of the exercise of economic freedoms.
  11. Regulatory environment for business by reducing regulatory and administrative constraints. To achieve this, the Commission is therefore proposing a simplification of the accounting Directives as regards financial reporting obligations, and a reduction of the administrative burden, especially for SMEs.
  12. The Commission proposes to modernise the public procurement legislative framework in order to arrive at a balanced policy sustaining the demand for environmentally friendly, socially responsible and innovative goods and services, provide contracting authorities with simpler and more flexible procedures, and give SMEs easier access.

Commenting on the final version of the Single Market Act, Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), says:

British business must be able to treat Europe as its home turf – and reap the benefits of a Single European Market of 500 million consumers. The 12 priority measures launched today by the European Commission go some way to achieving this.

?For example, proposals to make it simpler for skilled professionals to move across borders, to make it easier for businesses and public authorities to transact securely online, and to make it cheaper for innovative companies to obtain an EU patent, will help tear down barriers for companies trading all across the EU.

“The Single Market Act contains many of the right ingredients to enhance Europe’s competitiveness. However, we must now see political will and effort focused on measures that will give the private sector a major boost. European economies are still extremely fragile, meaning that we must see a clear and continued focus on growth and jobs both now and into the future.

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