Procedure : 2009/2176(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0216/2010

Texts tabled :

A7-0216/2010

Debates :

Votes :

PV 07/09/2010 - 6.10
CRE 07/09/2010 - 6.10
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2010)0300

REPORT     
PDF 169kWORD 106k
29.6.2010
PE 439.874v02-00 A7-0216/2010

on EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market

(2009/2176(INI))

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

Rapporteur: Rafał Trzaskowski

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market

(2009/2176(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Free Trade Agreement of 22 July 1972 between the European Economic Community and the Swiss Confederation,

–   having regard to the Agreement of 21 June 1999 between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons, and in particular its Annex I on free movement of persons and Annex III on the recognition of professional qualifications,

–   having regard to the Agreement of 25 June 2009 between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on the simplification of inspections and formalities in respect of the carriage of goods and on customs security measures,

–   having regard to the Agreement of 21 June 1999 between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on mutual recognition in relation to conformity assessment,

–   having regard to the Agreement of 21 June 1999 between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on certain aspects of government procurement,

–   having regard to the Protocol of 27 May 2008 to the Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons regarding the participation, as Contracting Parties, of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania pursuant to their accession to the European Union,

–   having regard to the Protocol of 26 October 2004 to the Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons regarding the participation, as Contracting Parties, of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic pursuant to their accession to the European Union,

–   having regard to the Agreement on the European Economic Area,

–   having regard to Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market (the "Services Directive")(1),

–   having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications(2),

–   having regard to the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee Resolution adopted at the 33rd meeting of the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee,

–   having regard to the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee Report on the Annual Report on the Functioning of the EEA Agreement in 2008,

 having regard to the Swiss Foreign Policy Report of 2 September 2009,

 having regard to the 25th EEA EFTA States Internal Market Scoreboard,

 having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in particular Article 217 giving the Union the right to conclude international agreements,

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A7-0216/2010),

A. whereas the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Members States (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) constitute major trade partners of the European Union (EU), Switzerland and Norway being respectively the fourth and the fifth most important EU trade partners by volume,

B.   whereas relations between the EU and three EFTA Member States (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) are based on the European Economic Area (EEA) which provides for full participation in the internal market with the EEA Agreement managed and monitored in a highly institutionalised framework,

C.  whereas Switzerland's participation in the EEA agreement was contested by a popular vote in 1992 and therefore relations between Switzerland and the EU are currently based on more than 120 bilateral and sectoral agreements that provide for a far-reaching degree of integration but not full participation in the internal market,

Introduction

1.   Considers the EEA agreement as a key driver for economic growth; welcomes the overall good track record of the EEA EFTA States in implementing internal market legislation, as demonstrated by the EEA EFTA States Internal Market Scoreboard; notes that relations between the EU and Switzerland pose far more challenges as far as the implementation of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement (FMPA) is concerned;

2.   Notes that bilateral agreements do not establish any automatic mechanism for adaptation of their content to the later evolution of the relevant acquis; recognises that autonomous adaptation of national law to EU law in the areas covered by bilateral agreements results from the sovereign decision of the Swiss people not to join the EEA, which should be fully respected;

Implementation of internal market rules: EEA EFTA countries

3.   Welcomes the inclusion of improved data on the EEA EFTA countries in the annual Consumer Markets scoreboard; encourages the EFTA Surveillance Authority, with the assistance of, and in cooperation with, the Commission, to develop further the systematic monitoring of the implementation of internal market legislation;

4.   Notes that with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty uncertainty exists as to which EU legislation is EEA relevant; considers that this might lead to slower implementation of the internal market legislation in the EEA EFTA States; urges the Commission to provide an assessment of the situation;

5.   Notes that the Lisbon Treaty enhances the role of national parliaments in EU decision-making; considers that, by analogy, parliaments in the EEA EFTA States should be more closely associated with the EU legislative process as regards EEA-relevant proposals; calls on the Commission to provide the national parliaments of the EEA EFTA States with the legislative proposals that are sent to the national parliaments in the EU Member States for consultation;

6.   Calls on the Commission to formalise the notification process of new EU rules and legislation that fall within the scope of the EEA Agreement in order to decrease the gap between the adoption of new legislation and potential take-up by EEA EFTA States;

7.   Encourages the EEA EFTA States to allocate adequate resources for implementing internal market legislation; considers the implementation of the Services Directive and in particular the setting-up of single points of contact to be of crucial importance in this connection;

8.   Recognises that, for institutional reasons, the implementation of internal market legislation is necessarily proceeding more slowly in EEA EFTA countries than in the EU; notes that, despite these differing conditions and the broadly positive results, there is still potential for further reducing the implementation deficit in the EEA EFTA States as well;

9.   Notes that other important Internal Market legislation proposals are currently under discussion, including the Commission's proposal for a Directive on Consumer Rights; calls on the Commission to increase the involvement of EEA EFTA Member States in those discussions;

Implementation of internal market rules: Switzerland

10. Welcomes the progress made towards liberalisation of cross-border service provision between the EU and Switzerland and, in particular, the positive effects of the FMPA, as witnessed by constant increases in the numbers of posted workers and self-employed service providers from the EU operating in Switzerland from 2005 to 2009; notes that this trend has been mutually beneficial;

11. Notes that Switzerland has adopted a number of supporting measures accompanying the FMPA aimed at protecting workers against wage and social dumping, providing equal treatment for Swiss and EU services providers and safeguarding public support for the agreement; observes that these measures can hinder the provision of services by EU businesses, notably by small and medium-sized businesses in Switzerland; notes that according to Court of Justice case-law a number of these supporting measures would be acceptable only if they protect, in a proportional manner, a general interest that is not already protected in the state of origin of the service providers;

12. Points out that the following supporting measures in particular are disproportionate as regards the agreement on freedom of movement and make it difficult for SMEs to provide services in Switzerland: the obligation in force in Switzerland to provide prior notification with an 8-day waiting period, the requirement to contribute to the enforcement costs of tripartite commissions, and excessively strict enforcement; in this context, also urges the Swiss authorities to repeal regulations which oblige foreign enterprises providing cross-border services to place a guarantee of financial probity;

13. Is concerned about the recent developments at Zürich-Kloten Airport where the Swiss authorities refused to allow German and Austrian taxis to take passengers, and expresses serious doubts as to whether this measure complies with the FMPA; urges the Commission to examine this issue thoroughly;

14. Calls on the Commission to examine measures obstructing the functioning of the internal market within the EU which also pose problems for Swiss service providers, and to take measures, if appropriate;

15. Encourages the Swiss Government, and the Cantons, to draw on the EU and EEA's experiences of opening up the services sector through the implementation of the Services Directive; emphasises that, in economic terms, the Services Directive is proving to have a liberalisation affect not only across but also within Member States, through the process of screening national legislation to remove unnecessary barriers to establishment, and peer review, whereby Member States have been justifying any further restrictions in the public interest; considers therefore that a similar exercise might prove helpful in paving the way for increased cross-border service provision between the EU and Switzerland;

16. Welcomes the efforts made by the Swiss government to improve the availability of information for businesses from the EU;

17. Welcomes the Swiss Parliament's decision to transpose Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications and calls on Switzerland and the Commission to reach an agreement on the implementation of the Directive as soon as possible;

18. Observes that in general the FMPA does not contain a comprehensive agreement on the free movement of services, with the latter only being very selectively covered by specific bilateral agreements; stresses that a comprehensive agreement on the free movement of services would bring significant economic benefits for both sides; calls on the Commission and Switzerland, therefore, to explore the possibility of launching negotiations with the aim of concluding an all-encompassing agreement on the free movement of services;

19. While fully respecting the causes of the specific nature of the relations between Switzerland and the EU, considers that every effort should be made so that identical or parallel internal market rules, inter alia in the area of free movement of services, are interpreted and applied in the same manner in the EU and Switzerland, in order to ensure Switzerland's equal participation in the internal market;

20. Stresses the mutual interest of the EU and Switzerland in enhanced uniformity in the application of the FMPA and a more timely convergence of Swiss and EU internal market legislation which would provide economic operators from both sides with a more transparent and predictable environment;

21. Welcomes the independent trend for Swiss authorities to consider EU Court of Justice case-law that has been handed down after the signing of the FMPA; welcomes the recent adoption of the Swiss legislation to take into account the Cassis de Dijon principle;

22. Encourages the Commission and Switzerland to reach a prompt understanding in the ongoing negotiations on bilateral agreements, including the one on product safety; calls on the Commission and Switzerland to formulate these and future agreements as clearly as possible, taking account of future developments, so that the possibilities for uneven application are strictly limited from the outset;

23. Calls on the Commission and Switzerland to look into developing a mechanism for a faster adaptation of the FMPA to the development of the relevant acquis in the areas falling within its scope;

24. Calls on the Commission and Switzerland in the short run to look into ways of finding horizontal solutions to certain institutional issues, to decrease fragmentation and enhance transparency in the decision-making system, to enhance communication between the Joint Committees and to consider the introduction of an effective dispute settlement mechanism;

25. Calls for enhanced communication between the European Parliament and Switzerland and for Swiss representatives to be more involved in the work of the European Parliament and its respective bodies;

26. Notes that in light of the new challenges in current and planned negotiations on several policy areas, inter alia consumer protection, there is a need to discuss the possibility of going beyond the existing institutional framework and perhaps concluding an all-encompassing bilateral agreement to the mutual benefit of Switzerland and the EU;

°

° °

27. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p.36.

(2)

OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p.22.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Members States (MS) (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) constitute major trade partners of the European Union (EU), Switzerland and Norway being respectively the fourth and the fifth most important EU trade partners by volume. He considers that the four EFTA MS and the EU MS equally importantly belong to a common cultural area in terms of sharing core values and a cultural and historical heritage.

1. Relations between the EU and the EFTA MS

Relations between the EU and Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein are based on the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement concluded on 1 January 1992 between Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein, the European Community (EC) and its MS. The principal aim of this agreement is to extend the EC’s internal market to the three EFTA countries. It covers the same "four freedoms" as the European Community, but also enables the EEA EFTA countries to participate in certain flanking policies, such as consumer protection and environmental policy. The agreement is based on the principle of homogeneity which means that the EEA legislation in the domains covered by the agreement should be as close as possible to the acquis.

It is also of particular importance to engage EEA EFTA members in discussions on the upcoming major pieces of EU legislation, like e.g. the proposal for a Directive on Consumer Rights.

Switzerland participated in the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the EEA agreement. However, the country's participation in the agreement was contested in a popular vote in 1992. Relations between Switzerland and the EU have been further arranged basing on a number of bilateral agreements with the EC and its MS.

2. Institutional framework: Two different models of economic integration without

accession

The EEA Agreement establishes joint institutions made up of representatives from the contracting parties that manage the agreement. A Joint Committee is responsible for the

ongoing management of the agreement and incorporation of Community legislation into its provisions. It is made up of ambassadors to the EU from the EEA/EFTA States, representatives of the European Commission and EU MS.

The EEA agreement is managed in a highly institutionalized framework: The EFTA Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day management of the EEA Agreement. The EFTA Surveillance Authority supervises the implementation of the EEA relevant acquis into the legislation of the EEA EFTA MS. It has also the competence to initiate infringement proceedings at the EFTA Court which is the judicial authority of the EEA.

There exists no such comprehensive institutional framework for managing EU-Swiss relations. Each bilateral sectoral agreement is generally managed by a separate Joint Committee composed of representatives of the contracting parties. On the side of the EU, the key role is played by the European Commission.

Both the EEA Agreement and the bilateral Agreements provide for a specific procedure to take into account the new acquis. Whenever a new measure with EEA relevance is adopted, the EFTA Secretariat drafts a Joint Committee decision to amend the annex of the respective agreement, which is normally adopted later by the Joint Committee. If the EEA EFTA countries' constitutions require an approval by the parliament or by referendum, the entry into force is possible only after the fulfilment of this requirement.

As regards the bilateral Agreements the corresponding decision is made by the competent Swiss-EU Joint Committee, following negotiations between the contracting parties. Joint Committees can only change annexes to the agreements or their appendices in so far as these are of a technical nature. Besides one exception, however, they can not change the main provisions of the agreements.

3. Main findings of the Draft Report

3.1. EEA Agreement and implementation of internal market rules

The EEA agreement has effectively ensured the participation in the internal market by Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. During its more than 15 years of functioning, the EEA Agreement has been a key driver for economic growth to the mutual benefit of the EEA EFTA countries and the EU MS.

Given the wide scope of the EEA Agreement, your Rapporteur acknowledges that his draft report enabled only an overall assessment of the state of the implementation of the internal market legislation in the EEA EFTA countries without going in-depth into different policy fields.

Your Rapporteur takes the view that the state of play of the implementation of the internal market rules in the EEA EFTA states is overall good, as demonstrated by the EEA EFTA states Internal Market Scoreboard 2009. At 0.7%, the average transposition deficit of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway is the same as most of the EU MS'.

Your Rapporteur considers it important for the European Parliament and other EU institutions to engage in a structured discussion with the EEA EFTA MS. He calls on the European Commission in particular to involve the EEA EFTA MS more in the ongoing discussion on internal market issues. He proposes that it is important for the EU institutions and EEA EFTA MS to engage in exchanging best practices in the implementation of internal market rules. In this context, he notes that the Pan European Public Procurement OnLine (PEPPOL) project coordinated by Norway which shall make it easier for public sector entities in all European countries to conduct cross border procurement is an example of good cooperation and exchange of best practices within the EEA framework. Another example of a successful project is the joint market surveillance and enforcement exercise on the Airlines’ Taxes, Fees, Charges, and Surcharges which was carried out under Norway leadership.

Your Rapporteur considers that the entering into force of the Lisbon Treaty entails two new challenges for the EEA Agreement at the institutional level.

Firstly, since the EEA agreement is based on the pillar structure of the EU which is abandoned in the Lisbon Treaty, there exists uncertainty as to which EU legislation is EEA relevant. This uncertainty might lead to a slower implementation of the internal market legislation in the EEA EFTA states. Your Rapporteur considers that the European Commission should provide an assessment of the situation.

Secondly, the Lisbon Treaty enhances the role of national parliaments in EU decision-making. The Rapporteur considers that, by analogy, parliaments of the EEA EFTA states should be more involved in the EU legislative process as regards to the EEA relevant proposals. He proposes that the European Commission should provide the national parliaments of the EEA EFTA states with legislative proposals which are sent to the national parliaments of the EU MS for consultation.

Your Rapporteur notes that the EEA EFTA states are in the process of implementing the Services Directive. He encourages the EEA EFTA states to allocate adequate resources for implementing the Services Directive and for setting up the single points of contact in particular. He furthermore encourages the EEA EFTA states to use the implementation of the Services Directive as an opportunity to develop their e-government services.

3.2. Free Movement of Persons Agreement/Relations between the EU and Switzerland

Your Rapporteur notes that Switzerland contributes in its own way to development of the Internal Market.

The EU has concluded more than 120 bilateral and sectoral agreements with Switzerland, the most important of which is are the Free Trade Agreement signed in 1972, the 7 agreements of the so-called "Bilaterals I" (free movement of persons, land and air transport, technical barriers to trade, public procurements, research, agriculture) concluded in 1999 and the "Bilaterals II" concluded in 2004 (Schengen-Dublin Treaties, fight against fraud, taxation of savings, statistics, processed agricultural products, pensions, environment, Media and a common declaration of intent regarding the association to the Education Programmes).

The draft report focuses on the functioning of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement (FMPA) between the EU, it MS and Switzerland which was concluded as part of the "Bilaterals I".

Firstly, your Rapporteur observes that the FMPA has had significant positive effects as witnessed by constant increases in numbers of posted workers and self-employed service providers from the EU operating in Switzerland from 2005 to 2009, contributing thus to a further deepening of economic links between the EU and Switzerland. There are approximately 200.000 cross-border commuters from EU or EFTA countries, who go to Switzerland every day to work.

Notwithstanding these positive developments, your Rapporteur considers that there also exist a number of issues to be addressed as regards to the implementation of the FMPA. Issues have been raised both by EU’s service providers as well as by the Swiss authorities.

The EU's businesses have pointed out several obstacles to the implementation of the free movement of persons agreement, including notably the 8-days notification requirement for undertakings from the EU wishing to provide services in Switzerland and a requirement to contribute to enforcement costs of tripartite commissions. As a reaction to these criticisms the Swiss government has improved the availability of relevant information for undertakings, notably through a website that provides information on salary and working conditions in Switzerland. However, businesses have also drawn attention of the Rapporteur to regulations which oblige foreign enterprises providing cross-border services to place a guarantee of financial probity. Such provisions seem to be disproportionate in light of the FMPA, as a considerable number of enterprises are not in a position to mobilise such an amount to enter the Swiss market. The Rapporteur notes with great regret that the recent decision of the Swiss Federal Tribunal rejecting this measure has been questioned by the canton of Basel, which placed an appeal against it. Again, understanding the misgivings the Rapporteur asks if measures of that sort are proportionate.

Swiss service providers have complained about, inter alia, the requirement of the German legislation, on the secondment of workers to conduct business in Germany, Swiss construction companies are obliged to contribute to the German leave fund even if they already have to provide paid leave in Switzerland. Another issue that has been mentioned by Swiss companies is related to the obligatory ten years guarantee for all works related to buildings in France. All constructors must subscribe to a respective insurance with a French insurance company. Swiss authorities claim that it is very difficult for Swiss companies to obtain this insurance.

Your Rapporteur observes that both the obligation to contribute to the German leave fund as well as the obligatory ten years guarantee might be considered as obstacles to the freedom to provide services, however, they appear to be non-discriminatory as regards to Switzerland since they equally apply within the EU.  Moreover, the Court of Justice has already held that the obligation to contribute to the German leave fund may, under certain conditions, be considered compatible with the freedom to provide services guaranteed by the Treaty.(1)

Your Rapporteur considers that all avenues should be explored so that the implementation of the FMPA could be improved by ensuring that identical or parallel internal market rules should be interpreted and applied in the same manner in the EU and Switzerland to ensure Switzerland's meaningful participation in the internal market. An increased uniformity in the application of the FMPA and a more timely convergence of Switzerland's and EU's internal market legislation would provide the economic operators from both sides with a more transparent and predictable environment to the mutual benefit of Switzerland and the EU. He recognises at the same time all the efforts by the Swiss courts to consider case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union that has been delivered after the signing of the FMPA.

Your Rapporteur acknowledges that due to the Swiss constitutional order taking over new acquis automatically would be incompatible with the Swiss political system and traditions. He is also aware of the challenges for the Swiss government to ensure the acceptance of the FMPA among the Swiss people, given, in particular, that every amendment or enlargement of the agreement might be subject to a popular vote.

Your Rapporteur nevertheless encourages the European Commission and Switzerland to work together in order to improve the implementation of the FMPA and other bilateral agreements relevant to the implementation of the internal market rules. Your Rapporteur invites the Commission and Switzerland to consider the possibility for an all encompassing bilateral agreement in order to reinforce the uniformity of application of the acquis falling within the scope of the agreements in the internal market and Switzerland, including the new acquis, and to find horizontal solutions to certain institutional issues.

(1)

Cf. the Joined Cases C-49/98, C-50/98, C-52/98 to C-54/98 and C-68/98 to C-71/98 (Finalarte and Others).


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

24.6.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

32

2

0

Members present for the final vote

Pablo Arias Echeverría, Lara Comi, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, António Fernando Correia De Campos, Jürgen Creutzmann, Christian Engström, Evelyne Gebhardt, Louis Grech, Małgorzata Handzlik, Malcolm Harbour, Philippe Juvin, Sandra Kalniete, Eija-Riitta Korhola, Edvard Kožušník, Kurt Lechner, Toine Manders, Hans-Peter Mayer, Gianni Pittella, Mitro Repo, Robert Rochefort, Zuzana Roithová, Heide Rühle, Christel Schaldemose, Andreas Schwab, Laurence J.A.J. Stassen, Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, Emilie Turunen, Bernadette Vergnaud, Barbara Weiler

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Cornelis de Jong, Emma McClarkin, Rafał Trzaskowski, Wim van de Camp

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