Subject files

Subject files

 

The IMCO Committee has considered the Commission's proposals for a modernisation of the EU public procurement rules (rapporteur: Marc Tarabella, S&D). This included the revision of Directive 2004/18/EC ("Classic Directive") on procurement by public authorities, and of Directive 2004/17/EC on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors ("Utilities Directive"), as well as a new instrument for the award of concessions contracts. This was further complemented by the adoption of a Directive on electronic invoices in public procurement ("e-invoincing"), and an international procurement instrument ('IPI') on access to and from third country procurement markets, conducted jointly by IMCO and INTA.
 
Public procurement is the process used by government institutions, public sector organisations and certain undertakings in the utilities sectors to buy supplies, services and public works. Such expenditure is a significant and influential component of the economy. The reform aimed to make the existing rules more flexible and easier to apply, to enable a greater strategic use of public purchasing power (to achieve green, social and innovation-related objectives) and to increase the use of new procurement techniques and tools such as joint buying and e-procurement. The basic challenges had already been debated in two IMCO own initiative reports (rapporteur: Heide Rühle, Greens), adopted in plenary in 2010 and 2011, in response to the Commission's Green Paper consultation.
 
The parliamentary works were completed within the record period of 2 years: The European Commission presented its proposal, issued in December 2011, and the Impact Assessment to the IMCO Members on 9 January 2012, followed by a first exchange of views on 29 February 2012. The negotiations were successfully concluded at first reading with the confirmation of the agreement by COREPER I in July 2013 and IMCO endorsement on 5 September 2013. The full modernisation package was adopted by Parliament in a plenary vote on 15 January 2014, and by Council on 11 February 2014. Amendments had been considered on 18 September and 5 November 2012, and compromise amendments on 28 November 2012. On 18 December 2012 and 24 January 2013, IMCO adopted its reports on, respectively, the classic and the utilities proposals (Classic Directive: 23 votes in favour, 8 against and 7 abstentions; Utilities Directive: 25 votes in favour, 5 against and 8 abstentions). Informal trilogue negotiations with the Council then lasted from February until July 2013.
 
The package was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 28 March 2014, and has entered into force on 17 April 2014.
 
Rapporteur: Marc Tarabella (S&D)
 
Shadow rapporteurs: Frank Engel (EPP), Jürgen Creutzmann (ALDE), Heide Rühle (Greens), Malcolm Harbour / Edvard Kožušník (ECR), Dennis de Jong (GUE), Matteo Salvini (EFD).
 

 

The Union Customs Code recast, adopted by the Parliament in its first/single reading at the September 2013 plenary session following the ordinary procedure, was the result of huge efforts from the three Institutions to reach a balance compromise text acceptable by all parties, after several all day-long technical meetings and trilogues. The EP negotiating team (IMCO rapporteur, its shadows and IMCO Chair) succeeded in its intention to provide economic operators, including and especially small and medium-sized enterprises, with a less burdensome administrative environment. Furthermore, thanks to an amendment inserted by MEPs, the companies that are now granted the status of "authorized economic operator" (AEO), would get preferential treatment, such as lighter customs controls with fewer physical and document checks. This status, if mutually recognised by the EU and a third country, should also make it easier for these companies to trade outside the EU. The EP prerogative to have in the basic act or via delegation of power issues linked to data requirements, time-limits and thresholds has also been kept in the negotiated text.
 
The new regulation entered into force since 30 October 2013 (with the exception of certain provisions which will apply from 1 June 2016).
 
Rapporteur: Constance Le Grip (EPP)
 
Shadow Rapporteurs: Sylvana Rapti (S&D), Olle Schmidt (ALDE), Pascal Canfin (GREENS/EFA), Adam Bielan (ECR), Matteo Salvini (EFD)
 
Opinion - JURI and INTA

 

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The Lisbon Treaty reaffirms consumer protection as a horizontal and key EU policy, stipulating that consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account in defining and implementing other Union policies and activities (Art.12 TFEU). The European Consumer Agenda, the political document which was adopted by the European Commission on 22 May 2012, promises to do exactly that: to set out a strategic framework for the Union's consumer policy for the years to come, integrating consumer interests in all Union policies.
 
IMCO has been always very active in promoting an effective consumer policy to ensure healthy markets in which consumers can operate safely and with confidence where cross-border trading and innovation are encouraged. An active consumer policy should enable citizens to reap the benefits of the internal market to its full potential, by offering them a wider choice of high quality products and services at competitive prices.
 
The EU Consumer Programme 2014-2020 and the New Agenda for European Consumer Policy have established the financial and policy framework for improving consumer protection and rights in the Single Market.  Following the IMCO request, the Commission started to develop a Consumer Markets Scoreboard to help make the SM more responsive to the expectations and concerns of citizens. IMCO reports annually in its work on the findings of the scoreboard to identify gaps in consumer empowerment. A strategy for strengthening the rights of vulnerable consumers was the subject of an own initiative Report adopted in 2012.
 
A major achievement was the Consumer Rights Directive, adopted in October 2011, replacing the Doorstep Selling (1985) and Distance Sales (1997) Directives. IMCO was also involved in the work on the Common European Sales Law (CESL), and adopted two own-initiative reports including the implementation of Directive concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices (UCPD) and Directive concerning misleading and comparative advertising (especially in business-to-business relations.
 
The own initiative report on the Protection of Consumers in Utilities Services traces the common elements amongst utilities services while it puts particular emphasis on four utility sectors: energy, telecommunications, postal services and public transportation.
 
An important achievement in improving access to means of consumer redress was the adoption of two legislative acts including Directive on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes (ADR) and Regulation on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes (ODR).
 
IMCO adopted a legislative Report on the Commission's proposal for a Directive on 'Package travel and assisted travel arrangements'. The development of online sales and the liberalisation in the airline sector have changed the way in which consumers organise their holidays.
 
As Union legislative framework on market surveillance and consumer product safety is fragmented and scattered over different legislative acts, IMCO drafted an own-initiative report on the revision of the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) and market surveillance, urging Commission to establish a single market surveillance system for all products, based on one legislative act covering both the GPSD and Regulation (EC) No 765/2008/EC.
 
Further to its work on the Consumer Credit Directive (CCD) and its implementation, IMCO was also involved in a new legislative act on credit agreements relating to residential property (the Mortgage Credit Directive).
 
As access to basic payment services is one of the preconditions for consumers to benefit from the internal market, IMCO Members strongly pushed for a legislative action and eventually adopted an opinion which was considered by ECON committee (competent for financial services) within its legislative-initiative report on Access to basic banking services, supported by a majority in the plenary in July 2012.
 
To overcome the fragmentation of the telecommunications market in Europe the Commission put forward a package of proposals to reform the European telecoms market, including a proposal for a regulation, European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a connected continent. The IMCO opinion on this regulation significantly diverts from the Commission's proposal and instead introduces valuable new provisions through amending the Universal Services and Users' Rights Directive.

 

The Lisbon Treaty reaffirms consumer protection as a horizontal and key EU policy, stipulating that consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account in defining and implementing other Union policies and activities (Art.12 TFEU). The European Consumer Agenda, the political document which was adopted by the European Commission on 22 May 2012, promises to do exactly that: to set out a strategic framework for the Union's consumer policy for the years to come, integrating consumer interests in all Union policies.
 
The purpose of an effective consumer policy is to ensure healthy markets in which consumers can operate safely and with confidence, and where cross-border trading and innovation are encouraged. An active consumer policy should enable citizens to reap the benefits of the internal market to its full potential, by offering them a wider choice of high quality products and services at competitive prices.
 
An effective consumer policy also depends on consumers and businesses knowing their rights and obligations under existing legislation and on their ability to apply them to their commercial transactions. Confident, well-informed and empowered consumers are key to the efficient functioning of markets, as they reward traders that operate fairly and respond best to consumers' needs. The increased complexity of retail markets, and particularly the retail services market, however, makes it increasingly difficult for consumers, especially vulnerable consumers, to make an informed choice when purchasing goods and services.
 
Tools like the Consumer Markets Scoreboard and the Consumer Empowerment Survey, which monitor the market, are essential to formulate policies delivering the best possible results for consumers, and are useful to be more responsive to citizens' expectations and to better understand the problems they face in their daily lives. It is therefore crucial to develop the right indicators of performance, in particular to measure consumer awareness and understanding. e.g. on EU labels and logos (cf. Bastos Report - Citizens' 20 main concerns).
 
Finally, having a number of important structures in place to tackle cross-border consumer issues, such as SOLVIT, the ECC Network and the Your Europe portal, it is important to focus on a single point of access (e.g. the Your Europe portal) and promote the strongest 'brand names'.
 
The European Parliament's main demands to the Commission on the future of the Union's consumer policy, were presented in the form of an EP's Resolution of 15 November 2011 (Triantaphyllides Report (IMCO)). 
 
The response to the new Consumer Agenda which was published afterwards, on 22 May 2012 is being prepared in an IMCO report under the draftmanship of Vicente Garcés Ramón (S&D). Shadow rapporteurs: Sandra Kalniete (EPP), Robert Rochefort (ALDE), Heidi Rühle (Greens), Malcolm Harbour (ECR), Kyriakos Triantaphyllides (GUE), Matteo Salvini (EFD). The vote in IMCO will take place on 24th April and then the resolution based on this report will be voted in plenary in May 2013.

 

Alongside the on-going reform of public procurement, the IMCO committee considered the Commission proposal on concessions contracts. This initiative sought to ensure a more efficient allocation of public money by establishing a single instrument regulating the competitive award of concessions contracts. The proposed rules aimed at increasing legal certainty for public authorities by establishing for the first time EU wide rules to define the notion of risk and affirm important principles, such as free administration and services of general economic interest.
 
In order to guarantee to businesses effective access to the concessions markets across the EU for both works and services, while also ensuring an overall economic advantage for public authorities, the directive provides that concession award criteria must be objective and that social and environmental considerations should also be taken into account in a determinative fashion.
 
Council and Parliament agreed to totally exclude the water sector from the new rules. Some other services of a specific nature, such as certain lotteries, civil defence and protection, emergency services performed by non-profit organisations, and media, financial or legal services, were also excluded from the scope of application of the new directive.
 
The European Commission presented its proposal and the Impact Assessment to the IMCO Members on 25h January 2012, while the whole of the parliamentary works were completed within a period of 2 years: The negotiations were successfully concluded at first reading with the confirmation of the agreement by COREPER I in July 2013 and IMCO endorsement on 5 September 2013. The full modernisation package, including the concessions directive, was adopted by Parliament in a plenary vote on 15 January 2014, and by Council on 11 February 2014. Publication in the official journal is expected to take place on the 18th of March, with the directive entering into force on the 28th of March 2014.
 
Rapporteur: Philippe Juvin (EPP)
 
Shadow rapporteurs: Antonio Panzeri (S&D), Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), Heide Rühle (Greens), Malcolm Harbour / Edvard Kožušník (ECR),
Thomas Händel (GUE), Matteo Salvini (EFD)

 
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The Single Market and its free movement of people, goods and services is one of the absolute foundations of the EU. It has provided prosperity and growth, jobs, mobility and freedom of choice to Europe's citizens and businesses.
 
In the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer protection, we believe that citizens must be placed at the heart of the Single Market. It is our mission to ensure that people can establish themselves anywhere within the EU, to work, study or set up a business.
 
We want to make sure that consumers know their rights and feel assured that they are safe and protected when buying products in the EU, whether in their local shop or when shopping online across borders.
 
We aim to make clear rules for businesses, and to make life simpler for small firms while expanding their market opportunities in making, selling or providing services.
 
The Internal Market Committee initiated the Single Market Act to give a fresh impetus to the Single Market. We remain committed to deliver on its proposals as quickly as possible. Only a well functioning Single European Market can ensure our prosperity and competitiveness in the world in the decades to come.
 
Malcolm Harbour CBE
Chair of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection