The single market, which this year celebrates its 20th birthday, has grown to include more than 500 million consumers, however, does this mean all is well? A report adopted by the EP's internal market committee calls for solutions for problems consumers and companies continue to experience, ranging from issues with recognising professional qualifications, opening bank accounts, sorting out cross-border tax issues or registering a car abroad.
The report by the Portuguese Christian-Democrat Regina Bastos is a response to the Commission survey of European citizens and businesses' top 20 complaints about the functioning of the single market, conducted at Parliament's request. The plenary vote on this is expected in October.
Among the main issues are the recognition of professional qualifications, cumbersome social security procedures, discriminatory employment practices in other member states, tax barriers for cross-border workers and employers, costly and burdensome car registration processes in other member states, burdens for businesses to discourage them from doing business or participate in tenders in another country.
Problems stem from a lack of information as people often do not know or understand their rights and where to look for information or help. There is also an issue with implementation as sometimes the EU legislation is in place, but it has not yet been put into practice. In addition it can also happen that EU legislation does not meet the expectations people had.
The report suggests several ideas to help overcome these problems:
The Commission should come up with concrete plans to solve the 20 problems
A modern framework for recognising professional qualifications should be adopted to improve the mobility of qualified labour, i.e. via European professional card
Mobility programmes for young people should be strengthened
Member states should modernise public administration and encourage the use of electronic tools
The Commission should turn the Your Europe portal into a digital one-stop-shop to provide info on single market
Member states should correctly and timely transpose legislation relating to the single market and reduce the level of non-compliance
An info campaign on the single market should be launched to inform people about where they can get assistance when experiencing problems
30 million European citizens do not have a bank account
About 30% of European citizens are unaware of their right to cross-border healthcare and reimbursement
29% of consumers find it difficult to compare offers relating to their bank current accounts, according to a Eurobarometer survey
62% of European consumers would like to change energy supplier but their freedom of choice is limited by the lack of clear and comparable information