The internal market (also referred to as the Single Market [SM]) - an area of free movement for goods, people, services and capital - is at the heart of the European project. To bring this into being, IMCO has been extremely active to remove technical, regulatory, and legal barriers within the Union. The creation of the internal market encouraged EU Member States to liberalise the monopolistic public utility markets that had been protected until that point. By aligning their national laws, Member States set about harmonising rules and standards within the EU.
An effective consumer policy can change our citizens’ lives for the better. The IMCO Committee is working hard to ensure consumers can operate safely and with confidence when buying products and services in the EU, whether in their local shop or when shopping online across borders.
Many EU policies directly affect consumers. It is the case especially in such areas as product safety, internal market, trade, competition, financial services, transport, telecommunications, or energy. A stronger consumer dimension is needed across all policies. Confident, informed and empowered consumers are the motor of economic evolution: they are keys to the efficient functioning of markets, as they reward traders that operate fairly and respond best to consumers' needs.
Consumers should be offered a wider choice of high quality products and services at competitive prices. This is particularly essential in the current economic crisis in order to fight against growing inequalities and protect vulnerable consumers and low-income groups.
Key actions to empower EU consumers are related to enhancing consumer rights and redress mechanisms, providing accurate information, ensuring market transparency and guaranteeing safe and high quality products and services.
The internal market (also referred to as the Single Market; SM) - an area of free movement for goods, people, services and capital - is at the heart of the European project since its inception and has been further developed since 1993 by the consolidation of economic integration, the introduction of common currency and solidarity and cohesion policies. A well-functioning integrated European single market is a fundamental process to further European integration, social cohesion, economic growth and sustainable development within the Union aimed at creating ‘an ever closer union among the European people’ preventing its citizens and Member States from reengaging in conflict. Twenty years after the launch of the European Single Market (SM) a number of shortcomings prevail as highlighted by Mario Monti in 'A New Strategy for the Single Market' and by IMCO report on Delivering a single market to consumers and citizens. IMCO has been very active.
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).
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),