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Procedure : 2012/2044(INI)
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Document selected : A7-0310/2012

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PV 25/10/2012 - 11
CRE 25/10/2012 - 11

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PV 25/10/2012 - 14.7
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Thursday, 25 October 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

11. Single Market Act II - Concerns of European citizens and business with the functioning of the Single Market (debate)
Video of the speeches

  President. - The next item is the joint debate on the 20th anniversary of the single market regarding

- the Commission’s statement on the Single Market Act II; and

- the report (A7-0310/2012) by Regina Bastos, on behalf of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, on the 20 main concerns of European citizens and business with the functioning of the Single Market (SEC(2011)1003 – 2012/2044(INI)).


  Regina Bastos, rapporteur. − (PT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to present the report on the 20 main concerns of European citizens and business with the functioning of the Single Market, particularly in this debate with Commissioner Barnier, on the 20th anniversary of that market.

First, a word of thanks to fellow Members of all the political groups and, in particular, to the rapporteurs for opinion and shadow rapporteurs for such constructive contributions and such a positive approach. It was a pleasure to work with them all and the report was much enhanced by our combined efforts.

We are very aware and proud that, throughout these 20 years, the single market has been the driver of significant economic and employment opportunities in Europe that have transformed the life of European citizens and businesses. Travelling, residing and working throughout the Union are freedoms that are within the reach of all citizens of the 27 Member States.

For European consumers, the single market means greater freedom of choice and lower prices. For our businesses, the single market means more business opportunities with access to 500 million consumers, which means greater economic growth and more job creation. In order to illustrate the progress that the single market brought about in Europe since it was set up in 1992 until the beginning of the crisis in 2008, we need only consider the 2.7 million jobs created and the 2.13 % growth in GDP. Today it is 13 % cheaper to make or receive a telephone call whilst travelling in Europe than it was in 2005.

Freedom of movement of persons is most eloquently expressed in the Erasmus programme. More than 2.5 million students have benefited from this European programme for educational exchange and mobility. In the past 5 years, businesses have also benefited from a 25 % reduction in administrative charges thanks to single market legislation. But we have to ask: is all well in the single market? No, it is not all running smoothly. The economic and financial crisis we are experiencing has had a negative impact on the operation of the market. Our citizens, who, in some countries, are in the crisis of unemployment and austerity measures, have begun to take a sceptical view of Europe and a negative view as regards the internal market.

People do not yet know or do not sufficiently understand their rights and do not know where to find information or assistance. On the other hand, many Member States are taking an unreasonable time to transpose European directives and legislation on the single market, thus compromising its full potential.

In certain areas of everyday life such simple things as, for example, the reimbursement of medical expenses following a temporary stay in another EU country, the opening of a bank account by a student on the Erasmus programme, changing energy provider, transferring retirement pensions, the recognition of qualifications and registering a vehicle in another Member State, are still very complex, difficult or onerous procedures. It is important to respond to these problems. That was my concern as rapporteur. Therefore, the message conveyed in the report is very clear: greater political will is required, much greater political will on the part of the Member States and the European institutions, the Council – above all the Council and the Commission – to govern better together; it is essential to regain the confidence of people and businesses and to make it easier for them to exercise their rights.

Finally, I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the European Commission, represented by Commissioner Barnier, for having presented the ‘Single Market Act II: twelve priority actions for new growth’ which, I am certain, marks a new stage for the future.




  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, when we discuss the single market there is one thing we should remember, which is that the founding fathers in the 1950s based the political ambition of being together and at peace – that is why they have just received a Nobel Prize, in a sense posthumously – on an economic project, an interest, a need to come together through the economy. Thus the European Coal and Steel Community, the Common Market, and then the common policies and the single market were born.

We are not only the inheritors of this, but also the players in it, particularly over the last 20 years since the single market was agreed in 1992.

You were quite right in saying, Ms Bastos, that because of the crisis and because of the suffering and the anger felt by many citizens, right now this anniversary should not be a time for smugness, still less sadness or nostalgia. This anniversary is a time for us to be proactive and dynamic, for us to look at what has not worked, put it right and move on.

I firmly believe – and I know that many of you share this view – that the battle for growth and competitiveness does not boil down to the single market, but that the single market is an essential condition for meeting the challenge of sustainable growth and competitiveness. The market has to be coherent. It has to be as solid as the ground under our feet, so that everything we build on it, the private initiatives of businesses large and small, the initiatives of Member States and local communities in the EU, is as effective as possible. The challenge for us today is to look together at how we can make this ground, the basis of Europe’s economy, more solid and coherent for our citizens, consumers and businesses.

This is why today’s debate is important: because it is both about citizens keeping an eye on that top 20 and about our undertaking, which is the Single Market Act.

On the issue of the top 20, my sincere thanks go to Ms Bastos for her constant watch and for having identified these 20 main concerns. The idea originally came from the report by Louis Grech two years ago, and also from our discussions at the Single Market Forum in Kraków.

I agree with the main points of this report and I think that any tools that can bring the internal market closer to citizens – which we are working on together in Strasbourg and Brussels – are very important. SOLVIT, which is now starting to work well and has solved a lot of problems through mediation, is now up and running. The Your Europe website, with its rising hit rate (I am told that it has 14 000 visitors a day, thanks particularly to the launch of its mobile app), is a good source of reference in the social media.

These are the kinds of tool that citizens, firstly consumers, small businesses and savers, need.

I think we will need to make more of them because citizens are expecting more, in practical terms, as you so rightly said, Ms Bastos, and that is what the consultation we did on the websites also told us.

The second prong of our action, of this proactive, dynamic approach, is to remove the obstacles that are obstructing the coherence of this large market. This is what we wanted to do in the wake of the Grech and Monti reports, through a series of operational measures, measures to help the drivers of the economy, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and consumers.

That was the Single Market Act. I monitor its implementation very carefully and very frequently, especially as regards the first phase, Single Market Act I. I was pleased that on 14 June you approved a resolution calling for the rapid adoption of the main measures in Single Market Act I. Mr Van Rompuy, on behalf of the European Council, also wrote to the Heads of State or Government to highlight the urgency of this. As far as possible we should try to produce good texts for the first reading, which meet people’s expectations.

I have a few short messages to broadcast on key issues for growth and competitiveness.

The unitary patent: the Cypriot Presidency is currently dealing with this, and I am grateful for that. All the Member States should be making a final effort to reach a position where they can support the proposed compromises on the last point still under discussion. I would like to thank the chair, Mr Lehne, as well as Mr Rapkay and Mr Baldassarre, for their efforts towards achieving this compromise.

Investors are awaiting texts on venture capital and social enterprise. We have one last point to deal with. I am going to suggest that the Council Presidency, the Cypriot Presidency, and the rapporteur arrange a meeting to find a solution to the legitimate question of tax havens, and we will thus have two new tools to encourage venture capital funding throughout the European Union and support businesses in the social economy, the ‘solidarity economy’.

As regards public procurement, for which Mr Tarabella is rapporteur – and I would like to thank him and the shadow rapporteurs – we are close to an agreement aimed at simplifying access to public procurement contracts, and qualifying public money and putting it to better use with an excellent method for public procurement and concessions.

There is the issue of professional qualifications. The European Council is working on this too, and so are the rapporteurs, Ms Vergnaud and the shadow rapporteurs. I think we will be able to reach agreement on this item, at the latest by the start of 2013, particularly on the excellent idea, which you support, of the mobility of professional cards.

Because there is no time to lose, because there are so many other problems as you said, Ms Bastos, the Commission – 10 or so of my colleagues, that is, not just me – has just proposed the Single Market Act II containing further priorities, further areas in which we need to make the single market work better. These are the transport and energy networks, which are the arteries of the single market, as well as mobility, businesses, and the digital economy.

There is one last thing that for me is one of the conditions of sustainable growth, social cohesion and consumer confidence. In a few weeks’ time I will be presenting a proposal on a basic bank account and the transparency of bank account fees, as you unanimously asked me to do.

So we are working together and we are taking this proactive and dynamic approach. We still need the things we have already done to be implemented, as the rapporteur, Mr Schwab, whom I thank, and the chair, Mr Harbour, so often say. For us it is a question of credibility. I therefore share the concern of guaranteeing the good governance of the single market. Mr Schwab is going to make some proposals about this, on which my work will based, and also the Commission’s agenda, which I have described as ‘zero tolerance’.

Every year, at the same time as the European Semester, we will be publishing indicators for the implementation of all the directives and regulations related to the internal market, particularly the Services Directive, which is a very important one and which has not been correctly applied. The idea of this is to see how far each country has got with transposition and implementation. I am determined that the texts you adopt will be applied. That is the job you should be asking the Commission to do; I can assure you that that is what I will be doing.

I said at the start that the single market was the first and most important part of the political project of Europe. We are accountable for the smooth running of the single market. It is my firm belief that, to win the battle for growth and competitiveness, every citizen is necessary, and so is every business, and every country and region too. It is for these citizens, businesses and regions, from which new growth will come, that we are collectively responsible for ensuring the success of this new phase, over the next 20 years of the European single market.


  Alajos Mészáros, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. (HU) Mr President, Commissioner, I congratulate Ms Bastos on her report, which is excellent. The objective of the single market 20 years ago was to create an open area without borders, where persons, goods, services and capital could move freely. Today this market comprises more than 500 million EU consumers. Regrettably, experience has highlighted differences between what was expected and what has actually happened. Urgent action is required at both national and EU level to remove the obstacles standing in the way of investments in energy infrastructure.

The next multiannual financial framework must provide sufficient resources to finance energy efficiency measures and projects. I believe we need a legal framework that both acts as an incentive and integrates energy suppliers into the implementation of measures promoting energy efficiency. It is vital for Europe to start growing again, to improve its employment levels and regain the confidence of consumers in order to stimulate and raise the efficiency of its single market, which generates economic activities worth almost EUR 11 billion.


  Heinz K. Becker, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Petitions. - (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, firstly I would like to thank Ms Bastos for her excellent report. In my capacity as deputy for Mr Busuttil, I would like to set out the position of the Committee on Petitions. Petitions to the European Parliament are a barometer for the practical functioning of the single market.

In this context, 2013 may be the year when the rights of citizens are significantly strengthened in this respect. There are problems with the lack of recognition of professional qualifications, a lack of clarity on consumer rights, the transfer of social insurance claims and the like.

A further measure to combat what, in my opinion, amounts to a critical paucity of information to the general public would be the merger of the European Union’s various information services.

I congratulate us all on the 20th anniversary of the single market and hope to see the strong development of this mechanism, which will play a significant part in the future of Europe.


  Evelyn Regner, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs. - (DE) Mr President, Commissioner Barnier, fundamentally, the single market is a wonderful project for employees and workers. Since the establishment of the single market in 1993, in the first 15 years alone – i.e. before the crisis – 2.77 million jobs were created, amounting to a 1.8 % increase in the overall employment rate. When we look closer, there are, of course, many negative aspects – but fundamentally it is a success. The single market has an impact on people’s normal, everyday lives: it is a massively positive, powerful instrument.

However, where there is light there is also shadow. Jacques Delors built the single market on principles not only of competition but also of solidarity and cooperation. In recent years, much of the solidarity and cooperation has been lost. Therefore, I would like to remind us again of how important it is that social rights and the social model are placed on an equal footing with economic freedoms and I ask you to take this into consideration in all your efforts.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))


  Paul Rübig (PPE), Blue-card question. – (DE) Mr President, I would like to ask Ms Regner: in your view, what could trade unions do to combat youth unemployment, for example in Spain and Portugal? Demonstrations will not be enough. What active policy could the single market implement in this respect?


  Evelyn Regner (S&D), Blue-card answer. – (DE) Mr President, it is very hard for me to tell you what trade unions can do as far as creating jobs is concerned. Two things they certainly can do, however, are to cooperate actively in developing models – such as the dual system in Austria of employment allied to vocational training – and to contribute constructive ideas on how training should be developed. They are, in fact, doing this. Of course, they should also be doing this in Spain.


  Andreas Schwab, on behalf of the PPE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, firstly, I think that the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the single market on 15 October were a real success, since they united very diverse stakeholders, as we call them in EU-speak, and solicited support for this project, which has now been in existence for 20 years. I would also like to congratulate expressly the Council and the Cyprus Presidency, which played an active role and is taking part in this discussion here today in the plenary session. This was a novel intervention for which we are exceedingly grateful.

These celebrations have also shown that we must use the Single Market Acts I and II to advance the single market, which, although already in place, is not functioning properly in all areas. The Commission has also done its work in this area, which is why I would like to emphasise again what Ms Bastos said. Much has been said about the single market, but at some point we are going to be asked why it is still not fully functional. There is one simple answer to that question: more political will is required at the highest level of the Council, President-in-Office, and at the highest level of the Commission.

It has long been the case in Europe that we have formally adopted European directives in single market affairs. At Member State level, some of them are implemented correctly, some incorrectly and some inadequately. Hence I am pleased to see Commissioner Barnier declaring once again his zero-tolerance policy for incorrect implementation and failure to implement the single market acquis, since this will have a decisive effect.

We also need to talk about the single market in a different way. Nevertheless, I think it is very positive that Ms Regner has pointed out that the Single Market has done a lot for workers. It also brings cultural diversity in Europe right into people’s homes. It offers citizens the opportunity to experience Europe at home. We should be communicating the cultural dimension more, since economic data alone are not enough for citizens.


  Bernadette Vergnaud (S&D).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the Monti report’s observation in 2010 was that the rules of the single market were focused primarily on competitiveness and trade in goods, and took no notice of citizens. To put this right, the Commission has presented 50 proposals to relaunch the single market, 12 of them legislative priorities that are currently being examined and are about to be approved.

On the 20th anniversary of the single market, which we celebrate this month, the Commission is announcing a new set of proposals for the single market, entitled Act II. These include measures that the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has been asking for for a long time, and we are delighted to see them become a reality at last. I refer in particular to the section on social entrepreneurship, cohesion and consumer confidence.

I am delighted at the forthcoming improvement of rules on product safety, which is of prime importance for consumers, and at universal access to bank accounts, and the transparency needed on bank account fees. This legislation can demonstrate that Europe protects its citizens, is useful and is not just about austerity policies. The EU has not given up on its social model. We have a duty to maintain this courageous ambition, despite the handicaps.

On the other hand, when it comes to Europe being protective and instilling confidence in its citizens, I am slightly more dubious about the proposals on transport and energy networks. I fear that the Commission is still stuck with its ideology of liberalising sectors of the network when we are still a long way from demonstrating the benefits for users, whether in terms of price or quality of services.

It seems to me a more pressing issue to respond to the concrete expectations of citizens and consumers with legislation on collective redress, and framework legislation on public services, which we have been asking for for too long. Mr Barroso’s poor communication on public services was clearly not up to the challenge because these services also have a role in the revival of growth in a new industrial strategy. Similarly the Commission is congratulating itself on the potential for mobility that the single market offers citizens. This is to state the obvious, but it would be even better if there were a guarantee that social rights and pension rights would be recognised.

The issue of mobility lies at the very heart of the legislation on recognising professional qualifications, on which I am rapporteur. The directive has to and will show that Europe can give real added value to growth, to employment and to its citizens, thanks to smart cooperation between all the institutions and in all the Member States. I am thinking particularly of the major innovation of a European Professional Card.

I would like to thank my colleagues for the interest they have shown. We received more than 650 amendments. I know that we will reach some worthwhile compromises, including on sensitive issues like notaries and nurses. All that will remain is for us to persuade the Council to overcome the hesitancy of some Member States, because this is the message we need to give. Yes, the EU can and must be a source of progress and shared wealth to achieve positive, active solidarity between all of its Member States, driven by the same spirit of success from their shared destiny.


  Jürgen Creutzmann, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the European single market, Europe’s greatest achievement, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Border-free travel, work and study, a huge market for businesses and consumers: the single market gives us more freedoms and is a driver of trade and productivity.

However, the benefit that the European Union derives from the single market could be doubled if further barriers to trade – especially in the service sector – were to be removed by promoting the digital single market and integrating infrastructure. If we examine infrastructure in the single market, two things become clear.

Firstly, it is fragmented: few countries place a priority on cross-border links. Let us take the example of rail traffic: a goods train travelling from Italy to Sweden has to change its locomotive and crew up to four times. Secondly, the integration of national systems is extremely costly. Physical and regulatory hurdles must be overcome.

The Commission’s proposals currently being discussed for trans-European transport, energy and telecommunications networks address these and other problems. However, these ambitious aims can only be achieved if enough money is made available. Investments in infrastructure are the best use of EU funds, because they encourage sustainable growth, employment and European competitiveness. This is why it is so important that the Member States, as part of the ongoing negotiations over the multiannual financial framework, do not make any cuts in the Connecting Europe Facility.

SMEs must also benefit more from the European single market. Ninety-nine per cent of European enterprises are SMEs, but only 25 % export within the single market. The further completion of the single market holds no dangers for Member States. On the contrary, it is an opportunity for more growth, more jobs and thereby more prosperity for people in Europe.


  Heide Rühle , on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the single market is without doubt one of the most important and successful European projects. However, this project – as Professor Monti’s report has shown – must be communicated to European citizens time and again. We must make it clear that the single market benefits not only the economy but, above all, citizens. We must address their concerns, as does Ms Bastos’s report.

In times of deep economic crisis, high unemployment and growing poverty in many Member States, a balanced economic structure that maintains a balance between free markets and public goods is essential. It must always be emphasised that these public goods inevitably contribute to the functioning of these markets. Governance in the single market and better legislation also require us to examine whether European guidelines and regulations maintain or jeopardise this balance between the free market and public goods and whether they strengthen or undermine democratic structures including local and regional government.

In this respect, I must also make the urgent point that I consider it a problem if the troika makes a recommendation, for example for Portugal and Greece, that water should be privatised, without the proper inclusion of the citizens of those countries. We must take care that we strike a balance that protects vitally needed public goods while also strengthening the free markets.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))


  Andreas Schwab (PPE) , Blue-card question. – (DE) Mr President, Ms Rühle, you just said that you want to ensure that public goods in Member States are protected. I agree. The question I have for you is: do you believe, as I do, that the decision on how to protect these goods must be taken in the legislative process within the European context and not subsequently, at the level of its unilateral implementation by respective Member States?


  Heide Rühle (Verts/ALE) , Blue-card answer. – (DE) Mr President, this must not be decided at European level alone. The European level must take into account in its decisions the subsidiarity of regional, local and national levels. If it does this, then it can ensure, in cooperation with regional, local and national levels, that implementation really occurs.


  Malcolm Harbour, on behalf of the ECR Group. Mr President, as Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, I particularly want to welcome this opportunity to debate not just the 20th anniversary of the 1992 programme but also Ms Bastos’ important report. There are strong links between those two because historically this Parliament has had a deep engagement with the whole of the single market programme.

The Single European Act of 1988 brought Parliament into co-decision, but we have also consistently supported citizens and consumers in their engagement with the Single Market and in dealing with their frustrations. Indeed, the report that Ms Bastos has prepared comments on a list of such frustrations, which we asked to be prepared – and that is entirely consistent with our role in encouraging action on issues like mobile phone roaming, car insurance, and other areas. These are matters about which citizens were frustrated and on which we have been to the Commission and demanded action.

The second linkage I want to make between the 1992 programme and where we are today is about the fundamental importance, as the Commissioner said, of a clearly-defined set of actions to continue driving the single market forward: having those actions documented, having timescales for them and having deadlines in place. The Single European Act, which led to the 1992 programme, put nearly 300 specifications on the table. That was the scale of the task, in those days, in order to move forward with a single market. We now have the first Single Market Act, and the second. In those acts we have a lot of actions, neatly packaged together, and they constitute clear demands to Member States to move forward.

We need this sort of continuing programme, ladies and gentlemen, and my nomination for the next set of actions is to get cracking with the digital single market. We know that is going to create jobs. It is not, in my view, being given enough priority, and that I think must be the next programme. I am already thinking ahead with my colleagues to 2014. This is an opportunity not to look back historically but to look ahead at what we need to do together.


  Cornelis de Jong, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (NL) Mr President, I wish to thank Ms Bastos for the excellent cooperation that has made it possible for me also to be able to vote for her report.

I believe that it is appropriate that we should celebrate 20 years of the internal market, because it has led to more jobs and to more economic growth. But there are also what I would call a number of fringe issues about which I have some questions particularly for Commissioner Barnier.

First of all, the increase in scale that is the automatic result of the internal market. Sometimes that is a good thing and it works efficiently but it also has cultural effects. In the past if you went to another town you would see different shops with products with which you were not yet familiar. Nowadays everywhere is beginning to look the same. Many people complain about that as well. They want fewer European chain stores and more small, independent businesses that make and sell handicrafts or other products that you do not see everywhere else.

Does the Commission agree with me that we must support SMEs, irrespective of whether companies have plans to expand their business to other Member States? Is there not in fact a need to support small, independent businesses and companies that wish to retain their own character and to remain small? Is it not discrimination if EU funds are available only to companies that wish to expand abroad?

A second problem concerns social entitlements. Professor Monti has already alluded to this: capital moves more quickly than work and, if we do nothing, competition will soon prevail over conditions of employment. That is precisely what we are now seeing. Is the Commission going to take initiatives against social dumping? Is the Commission going to study the possibilities of a European minimum wage, linked to national purchasing power?

A third area of tension concerns public services. We have had many bad experiences with the privatisation of what was previously the public sector. Can the Commission confirm that Greece and Portugal will be forced to privatise the water sector? And if that is the case, does this then mean the beginning of compulsory privatisation via the internal market? Many people are concerned about this and have started a public campaign for the right to water. How is the Commission going to deal with this issue?


  Claudio Morganti, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, 20 years of the internal market have undoubtedly had various positive effects, but also other less positive ones. There are still very many important issues that remain unresolved but that we can agree on in part. For example, the ability of EU citizens to open bank accounts in other Member States, the portability of pensions, and the problems concerning small and medium-sized enterprises. Obviously we agree on all these things, but there is one aspect that I want to emphasise, about which perhaps too little is said.

Sometimes rules are decided in Brussels that may be good for many countries but that cannot always be applied everywhere in the same way. For example, Italian bathing establishments are something typical only of Italy. If the Services Directive is applied too rigidly, they are in danger of ending up in the hands of some new multinational bathing establishment company, sweeping away at a stroke thousands of family-run micro-enterprises. Harmonisation is okay but standardisation is not, the principle of subsidiarity should always be followed fully, and there should therefore be greater involvement of national, regional and local authorities in the decisions made.


  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, doubtless the single market has created some substantial advantages in citizens’ daily lives, from a larger choice of products to the possibility of working or practising a profession in other Member States. However, 62 % of EU citizens believe that the single market only provides advantages for large companies and 52 % believe that the single market is making working conditions worse.

Citizens are not sceptical without reason: many efforts to extend the single market, including those made in the area of public procurement, are misguided. There is a real danger that companies from other Member States will not abide by the tariff agreements. In addition, many harmonisations ultimately benefit only large industry and not consumers. I need only mention the infamous incandescent light bulb ban.

If the Commission wants its Single Market Act II to improve labour and corporate mobility, we must get to grips with the abuse of freedom of movement, e.g. the bogus ‘self-employed’ people from the east working in the construction industry who, in Austria and Germany, are virtually wage-slaves. Great caution is required, owing to the opening of the labour market for Bulgaria and Romania. By dint of a somewhat unconventional citizenship policy, hundreds of thousands of Moldovans, Ukrainians and Russians with Romanian passports are entering Europe. This is good news for large companies but bad news for the local workforce. The single market can certainly do a lot, but it cannot be the ultimate solution to the economic crisis.


  Małgorzata Handzlik (PPE).(PL) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, as I have had occasion to hear during Single Market Week, people are not aware of the benefits the market brings them. This year’s anniversary is an excellent opportunity to reflect on how the public might be better informed of these benefits, and what else we have to do to free up the full potential of the market, particularly in support of economic growth and the creation of new jobs. Certainly one important step we have to take is to define the problems that citizens and SMEs encounter in the single market. We already have a number of proposals and actions which constitute responses to these problems, but it is important that they be adopted quickly and introduced effectively in Member States.

For both the market and the public, the Services Directive, implementation of which is now of fundamental significance, is playing a very important role. There is a need to create a coherent law which will guarantee dynamic development of the single market, because doing away with administrative barriers in one area and leaving them standing in another will block development of the market. For example: one of the objectives of public procurement reform is to make it easier for SMEs to gain access to public contracts, but implementation of this objective will only matter if at the same time we help SMEs to put a contract thus gained into effect, by introducing proportionate rules on employee delegation. Employee delegation is in turn closely linked to the provision of services in the EU and the effective application of the Services Directive.


  Mitro Repo (S&D). - (FI) Mr President, in a seminar organised in honour of the single market we engaged in a lively discussion on which factors had caused the greatest change in the lives of citizens over the last 20 years.

The media coverage often stresses the importance of the freedom of choice provided by a common market. The majority of seminar participants were, however, of the opinion that, besides the mobility of goods and services, the most significant benefit had been the fact that the opportunities to move around in a borderless Europe had increased. Indeed, we must make sure that workers, students and travellers can trust that their rights will be respected when they move about in the single market.

I hope that we do not give free rein to the nationalist and protectionist views that have been brought to the surface by the financial crisis, but rather strive by all possible means to support the common single market. Not merely in the economic sense, but because it also integrates Europe at the cultural and intellectual level. It is important that we continually strive to promote the mobility of all citizens, particularly those who are disadvantaged.


  Toine Manders (ALDE).(NL) Mr President, I agree with the Commissioner but also with the rapporteur that the internal market has been a tremendous success. However, I am continuing to hear many complaints about the incorporation of directives into national law, particularly from SMEs, and I would ask you again to focus more on regulations so that the legislation is the same for the whole of Europe.

I agree with my fellow Members, including Mr Schwab, that the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the internal market were very successful, but in my view they were too inward looking and the citizens of Europe still know too little about the success of this internal market. At the moment Europe is less popular than it was 20 years ago. Communication – let us call it marketing – is our greatest problem. A customer – as an SME would say – has to know that a product is very good before he or she buys it and that applies to Europe as well.

The internal market must create the conditions for people to get the best out of themselves, but they must be well informed. Therefore, Commissioner, I would ask you before 2017 to organise a major marketing programme so that all European citizens are aware of the advantages.


  Karim Zéribi (Verts/ALE).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the Commission is proposing that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the single market and forge further ahead with its completion.

In the field of transport, two areas are identified in Single Market Act II: rail and maritime transport. I am surprised not to see cabotage services provided by road, scheduled for 2013, mentioned here. This will have a massive impact on the environment and lead to more social dumping than is the case at present. I would like to think this was an oversight, though one might consider it a deliberate error.

Commissioner, you can be very pleased with the achievements of the last 20 years, but you cannot hide the reality of the social landscape or the crisis affecting Europe on the job front. As far as the forthcoming reforms in both the maritime and the rail sectors are concerned, these are based on a one-size-fits-all approach, that of liberalisation.

Commissioner, this headlong rush has to stop. The single market is not dogma. It is a tool that should serve economic development, environmental transition and the social wellbeing of our fellow citizens. We cannot reasonably take any more without introducing social and fiscal harmonisation measures that are effective with any future directive. There has to be a level playing field for everyone. My group will, in particular, be making sure that we avoid the abuses of the past and, for every area where the market is being liberalised, will demand that a social and environmental package be introduced so that competition is fair and brings development and prosperity for our continent.


  Emma McClarkin (ECR). - Mr President, as the ECR shadow on the Bastos report, I was keen to stress the need for concrete action to solve citizens’ problems, which include the recognition of professional qualifications, obtaining health care abroad, opening a bank account in another Member State and enhanced comparability of financial services on offer to consumers.

Citizens need to see tangible benefits from the single market. The amendments I tabled on this report covered the promotion of the Internal Market Information (IMI) system in the recognition of professional qualifications, enhancing the employability of young people and the need to prevent over-regulation. I was particularly happy that my amendments calling for the SME test to be applied consistently across all policy areas, and for a review of all regulations which negatively impact on SMEs, were adopted.

In this regard I look forward to the report we have requested from the Commission, with recommendations, on legislation which hampers SMEs, and that is due by June 2013. As we debate the Single Market Act, having just celebrated Single Market Week, I want to mention a significant figure I came across this week: between 2002 and 2011, 13 million jobs were created by the EU’s 21 million SMEs. They are our drivers for growth, and that statistic demonstrates yet again why we must avoid placing burdens on SMEs at a time when we need job creation.

We have a responsibility to address the 20 main concerns in relation to the single market, and this is a good start. But we must be mindful, during these difficult times, that the European Union was created for free trade, and we must keep this spirit of free trade and not succumb to protectionism. A properly-functioning barrier-free single market is what we need and what we must deliver.


  John Bufton (EFD). - Mr President, in an ever more globalised world it is vital the UK does not put all its eggs into one basket. We are disproportionately affected by the eurozone crisis because we are too tightly bound to Europe, with whom we trade at a deficit. The Commonwealth represents a far broader international and diverse market place with similar systems of governance and a common language and includes some of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Commonwealth markets have grown by 7.3 % over recent years, while the EU markets look set to contract. Yet we are limited as to how far we can exploit our ties with the Commonwealth due to EU membership. Domestic bilateral trade and investment treaties become subsumed under the new EU trade negotiations, disabling the UK from forging independent and prosperous import and export contracts with the wider world. The EU model is cumbersome and outdated. The UK must embrace globalisation as a dynamic nation with full sovereignty over policy. Isolating ourselves from the rest of the world by shackling ourselves to a failing EU project is dangerous.


  Ewald Stadler (NI) . – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we have heard so many celebratory contributions that it might be wise to introduce some modesty and be a little self-critical amidst all this celebration. In view of the various Member States’ unemployment rates – in some cases an average of over 20 %, or more than one in five people, is unemployed, and over half of young people – we should in a sense show a little self-criticism and humility.

In developing the single market, we should stop predicating everything on the philosophy of liberalisation. At the moment, some countries really need their young academics and workforce not to leave the country. In this case, liberalisation is the wrong message to send. I would also call on us to consider whether it is really wise to further liberalise the financial services sector, which has already gone completely off the rails. We must consider whether the entire finance industry should, in a manner of speaking, be placed under new control, which in the past ensured that whole countries could not be ransacked, as is the case now.


  Ádám Kósa (PPE). - (HU) Mr President, the introduction of the single market was a massive step forward for European citizens. I am convinced that legislators followed a guiding principle in 1986 when they created the legislative package. The first was the smooth access to capital, goods and services, and the free movement of people. However, we should not forget that there are still 80 million EU citizens who remain isolated from these, either partially or completely. Making the single market accessible to people living with disabilities is extremely important with a view to ensuring all-round access. Regardless of the kind of disability people live with, they are immediately faced with barriers in the light of their condition. These barriers have to be dismantled as soon as possible, since they are created by society, not by our own disabilities.

Ms Bastos highlighted and made recommendations for furthering increased accessibility. I would like to thank her for this. I will take this opportunity to draw attention once more to the need, especially in the current economic crisis, for a European package of legislative proposals on accessibility, because people with disabilities are important.


  Marc Tarabella (S&D).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the single market is one of the pillars that supports the edifice of Europe, and as you said, Commissioner, we are accountable for how it works.

The Single Market Act is an excellent initiative in this regard and we should all welcome it. We should indeed be working together to boost the single market and improve the way it operates. Commissioner, you have drafted an excellent proposal for a directive on the modernisation of public procurement and, as you have said, we in Parliament are trying to improve it. We are indeed moving forward in a constructive manner towards greater efficiency in public spending which, as you have often said, accounts for 19 % of the EU’s gross domestic product.

We are trying to achieve greater efficiency in terms of sustainable development, jobs, innovation, social inclusion and compliance with the rules, but also environmental protection. This is fundamentally important because it is the single market and some of the abuses that have happened – perhaps because we have overlooked social harmonisation too much – have caused our citizens to experience frustration and doubt owing to the competition between Member States, the pitting of citizens and especially workers against one another instead of being united in a Europe that is more prosperous for everyone.

I just want to mention two examples that concern us in the directive. One is stopping uncontrolled subcontracting, where public money is lost at every step along the chain, in long chains of subcontractors. We simply want to regulate it, make it more transparent. Subcontracting is a good thing because it obviously helps SMEs to participate more in public procurement contracts, which is something we all want and something there is probably too little of at the moment. What concerns us is compliance with the rules. It is not easy to achieve compliance with the International Labour Organisation Convention of 1994 because only 10 Member States have ratified it. Compliance with existing national rules is equally important.

Consequently, would you join with me, Commissioner, in fighting for greater compliance with the rules, which will improve the single market and make it more harmonious, to the benefit of all European citizens?


  Zofija Mazej Kukovič (PPE).(SL) Mr President, the report and the Commission’s proposal come at the right time, at this time of crisis when good innovative solutions are in demand.

In everyday life we are aware of minor changes, such as in car equipment and the mandatory breathalyser, socket connections with a compulsory converter and in information technology. The report clearly shows that the single market is moving towards real solutions.

Thanks go to the rapporteur, who based her findings on real life. When barriers fall, the dividing walls are lower as well. Companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, will have more opportunities to connect. Connected through innovative ideas and products, they will be more competitive globally, in a world where many people just want the same standard of living and environment as we have in Europe.

It is time for us to devote less energy to competing with each other within Europe. It is time for us to take up a strong common position with regard to economic competition outside Europe. We will win with greater unity of the single market.


  Sergio Gaetano Cofferati (S&D).(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, 20 years is a long time, long enough to do many things, and the things that have been done obviously include many that have been good for European citizens. However, I think that looking ahead is important and I particularly think that we should be focusing as much as possible on what, of the things that ought to be done, still remains to be done in the ‘second phase’ of the single market.

That is why I think we need to spend some time on issues concerning the social nature of the measures that form the single market: we should not see people merely as consumers; they are also citizens and they are also producers. We talk about people’s rights and about how all these separate areas where people should be respected and recognised are linked. Well, that is where we should be coming up with solutions to make the single market more of a reality. We must not forget that the market is made up of the behaviour of people made of flesh and blood.


  Olle Schmidt (ALDE).(SV) Mr President, Commissioner, finally there is something to smile about! There is at last something to celebrate in these gloomy times. This year the EU’s single market is 20 years old. Much has been achieved, Commissioner, even if some things remain to be done. That is a credit to you, Commissioner, and thank you for your considerable commitment.

People can move freely across borders. They can also purchase goods and services without the expensive and awkward rules of the old days. If we listen to some of our fellow Members, it seems as though you would like to wind the clock back 20-30 years in Europe; however, this is not the solution. It has given us greater freedom of choice, lower prices and a better standard of living.

Mr President, my major concern today is that the EU is beginning to split, to be divided up, and that this could also affect the single market. I appreciate entirely that the euro area must resolve its problems and create stability in Europe, partly through a banking union. However, stronger integration, Madam President, must not also mean a risk of the internal market becoming divided – this must not be allowed to happen.




  Pablo Arias Echeverría (PPE). - (ES) Madam President, Commissioner, I would first of all like to thank you for being here this morning and also congratulate you on the good job you have done with the publication of the Single Market Act II.

I would also like to applaud the work of Ms Bastos, which is correct and certainly necessary. I believe that the 12 proposals included in the act will surely constitute a major boost to the single market, and I especially welcome the inclusion of the creation of a genuine digital single market among those priorities.

This year we are celebrating 20 years of the single market: 20 years of prosperity during which as Europeans we have expanded the opportunities available to our businesses and to the public. However, if we want to continue making progress and to be able to meet the forthcoming challenges of technological changes and developments, and ensure that our economy continues to be competitive in the global market, I firmly believe that, just as in the 1980s and 1990s we developed and established the four fundamental freedoms, now the main goal we must achieve is to create a true, genuine digital single market.

I know, Commissioner, due to our close cooperation over the last two years, that the digital market is a priority for you. I would like to take this opportunity to once again offer my support so that we may continue the same cooperation between the Commission and Parliament that we have had so far in order to make the digital single market a reality.

Exactly two weeks ago the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection adopted the report on completing the Digital Single Market by a very large majority. I believe it is vital that both Parliament and the Commission convey to the Council the need to move forward with the recommendations in both documents and that we continue to work very closely in order to put them into effect.


  António Fernando Correia de Campos (S&D). - (PT) Madam President, Commissioner, Ms Bastos, congratulations on your very successful work. The Union’s single market was set up in 1992, when Jacques Delors was President of the European Commission. At the time, Mr Delors summed up the three basic principles of the single market: competition that stimulates, cooperation that strengthens, and solidarity that unites. Twenty years on, the economic and financial crisis has rekindled the threat of national protectionism and it is clear that the internal market is not a fait accompli. In celebrating these 20 years we must take the opportunity to relaunch the single market with a view to placing the market at the service of citizens and not citizens at the service of the market.

Therefore, priorities must be set and I should like to mention one in particular. We need a common policy for the production and distribution of high-efficiency energy at prices accessible to the consumer via the European energy market, served by cross-border infrastructures with the possibility of leveraging EU investment, representing European added value. Madam President, the common market also has a role to play in the field of energy.


  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE). - (HU) Madam President, 2012 is the 20th anniversary of the single market. This anniversary is a great opportunity to think collectively, and overcome the factors and barriers which prevent us from utilising the full potential of the single market. However, whilst celebrating we should not lose sight of the fact that the main beneficiaries of the single market are the citizens and enterprises. It is our task, as legislators, to make this happen on their behalf. This means our duties do not end when efficient legislation is adopted; we are also responsible for its appropriate implementation, and for creating cross-border synergies between the various national public administration systems.

I would like to emphasise that the single market is the best tool available to stimulate economic growth, and therefore it is extremely important that we treat each and every issue associated with the single market as a priority. I congratulate the rapporteur, who put in some sterling work, and I also welcome the efforts of the European Commission in this area to date. However, I believe the process must be continued. We need even greater commitment to implementation. We have deployed significant resources to creating fast and effective information portals, but overlaps have also emerged that impede the very same work. It is crucial that we define goals moving forward that focus on a consumer-based approach. In future I would like to see nothing impeding Member States from treating this issue as a priority.


  Barbara Weiler (S&D) . – (DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the single market has become a matter of course for our citizens. Who can fail to remember with amusement the judgment of 1979 on Cassis de Dijon or the banana war with the United States? As we look at global trade wars or disputes, the European single market appears as a mainstay of the European philosophy: no barriers, no discrimination, legal certainty and fair competition.

Nevertheless, in the interplay between the global economic powers we, the European Union, must continue to safeguard the rights of consumers and SMEs and protect consumers against new dangers, for example, chemical substances or new, creative tricks by vendors, such as exist in the financial market. We social democrats support the Commission in its measures against dominant practices and unfair competition, regardless of who is involved, even when this applies to Microsoft or Google, to German energy companies or Gazprom.

We must also observe Jacques Delors’s third point more closely: the single market also means solidarity, which unites.


  Othmar Karas (PPE).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, it is fantastic that we are celebrating 20 years of the single market this year and 20 years of European citizenship next year. The single market and our citizens belong together. It is also good that we changed the name of the committee from ‘Internal Market and Legal Affairs’ to ‘Internal Market and Consumer Protection’. The single market can only function if we can really freely experience the four freedoms of movement – people, goods, services and capital – in the single market and if we have regulated and controlled them at the European level. There can be no successful single market without internationally active, competitive SMEs. They are the heartbeat of the single market and the driver of employment in the European Union.

Every day we are confronted with two problem areas: some people are complaining that barriers still exist, while others are complaining about the demonstrably inconsistent – or non-existent – application of EU law in many countries. We need to work on both areas. In the financial services and transport sectors, the single market has not yet been fully realised. It is important that we forge ahead in the sectors of transport, professional qualifications, the digital single market, public procurement, banking services and the internationalisation of SMEs.



Catch-the-eye procedure


  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE). - Madam President, let me start by saying how good it was last week to celebrate together the great achievements of the integrated market, and I would like to congratulate Commissioner Barnier on all the initiatives of the Commission. You managed, Commissioner, to help us show that it is a win-win situation for all, for business and consumers; you gave a face to the single market. I welcome the single market mainly because of the commitment to moving forward in really finalising what is already in the pipeline, and I count on your support with the Member States also to move forward. It is a commitment to a united Europe.

Moving forward in the single market now is a way to keep together non-euro Member States and euro Member States. This is what this Parliament wants. Help us to move it forward with the Member States, too. Let us start with the digital single market. I very much appreciate your zero tolerance policy for the implementation of the Services Directive. Let us move forward on the previous issues that are missing, such as access to credit for companies, the Professional Qualifications Directive and dispute resolution online – this is the highway to jobs in Europe.


  Catherine Stihler (S&D). - Madam President, the twentieth anniversary of the creation of the Single Market is a great achievement: one set of rules rather than 27 sets of rules, access for Scottish businesses to a market of over 500 million people and a social model to underpin this freedom. Europe is more than a free market. I am pleased that the Commissioner this morning mentioned the importance of social cohesion. I also welcome your statement on basic bank accounts, Commissioner, and I hope that credit unions and their important role are included in your discussions.

Speakers today are correct to point to weaknesses. Twenty years ago we did not use mobile phones in the way we do today; in fact, most people did not have a mobile phone. Now, the ability to access information and buy goods and services on the move is a driver for growth. I must emphasise the importance of the digital single market, which the chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection has mentioned today. If I can give you an example, Commissioner, concerning e-books and libraries, certain publishers today are making decisions not to allow libraries to access books in a digital format. You, Commissioner, have an opportunity to prevent this ‘book apartheid’ from happening and to find a solution to the urgent challenges. We cannot allow books to go the way of digital music, where one company appears to determine the price of a download.


  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE). - Madam President, I would like to thank Commissioner Barnier for his strong commitment to deepening the single market, which is evident in the Single Market Act.

Despite the benefits the single market has brought to citizens and businesses, and to our economy overall, I think we should be critical in identifying the areas where we can do better, and take the necessary measures. This process was started with the first Single Market Act, which is under implementation, and it is now being completed with the Single Market Act II. I believe the approach taken by the Commission and the priorities identified are correct. Nevertheless I would like to stress that these measures must be accompanied by better governance of the single market and a strong commitment from Member States to transpose the legislation correctly and in a timely and more transparent way, making maximum use of correlation tables. Enforcement is a key priority if we want the single market to deliver.

Last but not least, it is essential to communicate more with businesses and citizens and to associate them as closely as we can with the deepening of the single market.


  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL). - (PT) Madam President, the single market is frequently used as a tool as regards its alleged contribution to employment, growth and, astonishingly, economic and social cohesion. Except that reality, stubborn as it is, constantly contradicts this wonderful vision. The truth is that the single market has gone hand in hand with the weakening of the more economically vulnerable countries, the destruction of productive capacity, and an increase in external dependency. These 20 years have meant commerce prevailing over the public interest. The market has encroached upon almost every sphere of economic and social life, upon public services, with liberalisations and privatisations, producing inequality, poverty and exclusion.

The single market has been opening the way to monopolistic concentration in various sectors of activity. To take the case of transport – as regards the so-called freedom of movement of persons within this single market, it is clear today that it serves not harmonisation in progress, but on the contrary, the levelling down of living and working conditions in Europe. That is the balance sheet of the past 20 years that reality places before us.


  Phil Prendergast (S&D). - Madam President, let us remind ourselves of how different, cumbersome and even impossible European citizens and businesses would find many of the mundane tasks we take for granted were it not for the groundwork already done on the internal market over the past 20 years. Moreover, cross-border trade in the EU has been an invaluable source of prosperity, increased access and economies of scale for our businesses.

Unfortunately, given the present design of our monetary union, trade has also been a source of imbalances between the centre and the periphery in the EU, forcing large numbers of our young unemployed people to seek jobs abroad. Our current work on the review of the Professional Qualifications Directive is acutely important, and we must make sure, when dealing with healthcare professionals, that we facilitate professional mobility without jeopardising key principles such as patient safety, and that we do not undermine training standards.

The internal market is not an end in itself but rather a means of achieving prosperity and increasing social cohesion. That must guide us in our work, so that we can arrest the race to the bottom which we have witnessed with blind liberalisation moves on many fronts.


  Paul Rübig (PPE) . – (DE) Madam President, communication is actually the basis for the creation of new jobs. The European Union, through the Roaming Regulation, has set standards, and not only in the single market, since it is also in the process of setting international standards, as communication also needs standards and technical legislation, and this was accordingly supported and achieved by the European Parliament. The Connecting Europe Facility is a further step towards entering the high-speed broadband field and making communication affordable. Affordable communication is also the basis for a successful strategy for the single market. For that reason, the frequency regulations and the framework regulations for future auction and allocation of frequencies will need to play an appropriate role.


  Olga Sehnalová (S&D).(CS) Madam President, Commissioner, the 20th anniversary of the functioning of the internal market more or less forces us to take stock of the situation. We have already heard in the debate about all the successes, but there is still a long way to go before the internal market can become an area where all citizens of the European Union can lead contented and decent lives.

I believe that a well-functioning European consumer policy, which places the citizen first, is an essential pillar. Consumers have already expressed some specific observations; it is now up to us to turn their expectations into understandable rules, and this includes awareness-raising and education of consumers. Neither should we forget that the rules will work only if they are enforceable and citizens are able to actually assert their rights. In this regard the Single Market Act II in my view still offers too little.

Finally, on reaching this anniversary, I would like to express a wish for the internal market to be fair to all its participants – consumers, employees and businesses, regardless of their size – and especially that people will place their trust in it.


  Hubert Pirker (PPE) . – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the single market is without a doubt a great achievement, where and when it functions. What has been put before us as the second single market package also contains many positive proposals. However, I would like to put forward a few additions.

The first concerns transport. In the European Union we are currently creating the trans-European networks in order to build railway corridors. However, what is lacking is harmonisation of current voltages, gauges and safety devices; this is absolutely necessary if the opportunities presented by the single market for rail transport are actually to be taken up.

The second concerns rail passengers: standardised electronic ticketing should be introduced – exactly as we are familiar with for air travel.

The third concerns the sale of cars: if you buy a car and move to another country, you are faced with an expensive bureaucratic obstacle race. The same applies if you buy a used car. In this regard, I call upon the Commission to develop constructive proposals to make the single market fully operational.


  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D). - (PT) Madam President, the single market is one of the European Union’s greatest achievements and certainly represents one of the strongest pillars in the development of the Union, its Member States and its regions. However, in order for it to be efficient and fair, its policies must be based on the notion of equality of opportunities for citizens and for all regions, fostering the Union’s internal cohesion. Within this context, we need to acknowledge that we can only achieve greater development in our most remote regions, such as the outermost regions, through their greater integration into the single market.

Regions such as the Azores need to continue to increase their competitiveness, improving their conditions for competition, but we shall never be able to achieve that if we do not find better solutions to our accessibility issues in the field of transport. We could achieve that through specific instruments that provide a better response to the problems that arise because we are so far away. We therefore propose that the Commission should consider a specific programme, of the POSEI Transportes variety, as an essential instrument for the integration of such regions into the internal market.


  Angelika Werthmann (ALDE) . – (DE) Madam President, 500 million consumers, 21 million companies, a trade volume of EUR 2.8 billion within the EU and EUR 1.5 billion worldwide – 20 years of the single market. In my view, these figures really speak for themselves. Citizens gain many advantages through the single market. I will single out one point: they can work where they like. Mobility is one of the greatest achievements, but as yet it is little known. Our citizens must be better informed, since, as the economic crisis rages, openness to mobility and cross-border business connections and services in some States could alleviate the situation for some people, especially young people.

In spite of everything, Member States’ national characteristics must be respected and right now we must do everything possible to promote growth, which will alleviate the economic crisis for EU citizens.


  Gilles Pargneaux (S&D).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, we salute the initiative taken by Jacques Delors 20 years ago, as the Berlin Wall was coming down. Despite that, despite all the progress that has been mentioned since the start of the debate, we have to admit that the Single Act is nowadays synonymous with injustice, inequality and economic liberalism.

I want to hear what you have to say, Commissioner, I want you to tell us how together we can create a fairer Europe, a Europe that facilitates, a Europe that protects. There are a number of issues – and I would like to hear what you have to say on these – that lie at the heart of the economic and social crisis, as we call it: fiscal harmonisation, public welfare services, minimum wages in Europe, the establishment of job-rich closer cooperation, the promotion of cross-border cooperation, and the drafting of a fair trade policy.

Twenty years on, these are the challenges that lie ahead. I am counting on you, Commissioner, to work together with us on this wonderful policy of European integration.


  Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE).(PL) Madam President, one concern that people have is that we react so slowly to the demands that people voice, and specifically to their concerns. This document we are currently discussing is in fact 20 main concerns. It was presented to the public a year ago during the Single Market Forum in Kraków. We must work together a little bit faster. I am definitely with those who are also calling for better information. I would like to remind you once more of the consultations that have been held. The Commission organises them in only a few languages. They must be easily accessible, there must be good information about them and they must take place in all the official languages of the European Union.

I have been listening attentively to the debates about this year’s Single Market Week, and it is true, as has been mentioned in today’s discussion, that the digital economy is at the centre of the debate on the single market, but the development of internet commerce is being held back by the fact that we do not have a single postal services market. We have had success with roaming, Commissioner, although I was hoping for a more ambitious proposal from the European Commission. In that case, let us take a look at the postal service, as disproportionately high payments for cross-border consignments, payments which have no good grounds, are dividing the European market and holding back the development of electronic commerce.


  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Madam President, Commissioner, after twenty years spent building the Union’s single market, it is a good opportunity for us to take stock of what has been achieved from the original plans and what does not work as we might have wished. There is no doubt that large retail chains and multinational companies are already benefiting from this ambitious European project.

On the other hand, when it comes to freedom of movement of labour we are not succeeding in realistically creating conditions such that our citizens can have equal access to work anywhere in the Union. The European labour market is clearly failing to absorb large numbers of our citizens who are looking for work and who come from areas affected by the crisis. We must therefore continue, Commissioner, to improve the mechanisms that shape the conditions for the functioning of the single market and seek to improve the conditions for the mobility of workers, self-employed persons and small businesses.


  Sylvana Rapti (S&D).(EL) Madam President, on the occasion of the anniversary, I would like to wish the single market chronia polla (‘many more years’), but I think this is not enough. I feel it would be more appropriate to say ‘many good years’, ‘many effective years’, ‘many years of rapid progress’. Technology is overtaking us. Until now, when talking about the single market, we have all been saying – as an example of its success – how cheaply we can talk on our mobile phones, and this is an achievement of the single market.

However, I have a negative example to give you: nearly all of us in this Chamber have our iPads; but if this iPad, this smart device you have bought, say, in Belgium, gives you problems when you go to the UK or some other Member State, you are told ‘go to the country where you bought it’.

I say this to show that we need to act more quickly, because we need to do more than just talk and celebrate. We need action. We have been talking about 12 priority actions and 50 supplementary actions. Of these 12 priority actions, 11 are behind schedule, and this has been admitted by the Commission at an official function. All this gives me cause for concern, but I remain optimistic, because in a time of crisis the single market is more necessary than ever for the European citizen who really suffers.


  María Irigoyen Pérez (S&D). - (ES) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the advantages of the single market are unquestionable: increased competition, an increased supply of products and services, job creation, more affordable prices for consumers and greater protection, but they are still not sufficient, and we cannot become complacent.

However, the cultural, linguistic, protectionist and bureaucratic barriers are preventing the public and businesses from being able to fully enjoy the advantages of the single market. Eighteen months ago we celebrated the announcement of the twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence in the single market. Unfortunately, an agreement has still not been reached on the majority of the proposals, as the Commission acknowledged in last week’s communication.

Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the urgent nature of the crisis requires us to be ambitious, to go much further and to reach agreements as soon as possible in order to boost growth, employment and the confidence of the public and businesses in the single market.


  Vital Moreira (S&D). - (PT) Mr President, yes, there are reasons to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the internal market. However, the internal market for goods, services and investments should be accompanied by a single labour market, removing obstacles to the mobility of workers. Without the single labour market there is not really an internal market. Secondly, the single market means free competition, but free competition presupposes a level playing field and not regulatory dumping, fiscal dumping or social dumping. Market integration should be accompanied by regulatory integration, fiscal integration and social integration.


  Danuta Jazłowiecka (PPE).(PL) Madam President, in a period of economic crisis, we are particularly able to value the advantages of a single market. This very single market has become an engine for growth for the European economy. Embracing more than 500 million consumers and 23 million businesses, it is the largest economic area in the world, and the 27 EU Member States make up a larger internal market than the 50 states of the USA. We should slough off our complexes and place our trust in the potential inherent in the EU. Fully united, we are in a position to deal with competition not only from the United States, but also from the ‘emerging’ powers. Of course we must be aware of the restrictions that remain in place, including those linked to poor transport or power networks, problems with the free flow of services or the lack of a genuine digital market – this is something of which my colleagues have spoken. The Single Market Act II, however, provides proof that awareness of the unutilised potential is increasing, and that the European Union is attempting to take down the barriers that exist. I wish the Commissioner every success in strengthening the single market and overcoming these barriers.


(End of catch-the-eye procedure)


  Andreas Mavroyiannis, President-in-Office of the Council. − Madam President, the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the single market saw a series of events taking place in Brussels, at the European Parliament and in all Member States which culminated in the ‘Single Market Week for New Growth’ from 15 to 20 October.

I personally had the honour to participate in the closing event in Nicosia on 20 October, at which Commissioner Barnier, the Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) – Malcolm Harbour – and IMCO Member Malgorzata Handzlik spoke about the past, present and future of the single market in front of numerous representatives of civil society.

As Members have confirmed in their speeches, the establishment of the single market brought not only huge benefits for citizens by increasing the choice of products and services and lowering their prices but was also a driving force for businesses, fostering their competitiveness and innovation capacity.

However, despite impressive achievements the single market and its benefits are not yet fully visible to the citizens, for whom it was originally created. The single market still remains for many a very abstract and bureaucratic concept which is unfortunately too often reduced to top-down rule-making by Brussels.

Furthermore, even after 20 years of its existence, there is still a considerable gap between expectations and reality regarding the single market, with European citizens and businesses still facing obstacles in exercising their rights – or to put it more bluntly – even after 20 years of success, there is absolutely no room for complacency. On the contrary, what we learned from the celebrations is that we have to step up our efforts in order to pursue the establishment of a seamless single market.

Firstly, we need to better inform consumers and businesses on the existing tools, in order to create the kind of ownership which is absolutely necessary for stakeholders to move the single market forward.

Secondly, we need to pass on the message that despite the global financial crisis the single market did not fragment further – which is an encouraging sign of inherent strength, and hence the EU has to build on that. Moreover, completing the single market is not only about passing new laws, but increasingly a matter of implementing correctly and enforcing the already existing rules.

Thirdly, as Europe and other parts of the world struggle to recover from the financial crisis, boosting growth and employment is the number one priority for leaders across the EU. Europe has enormous unrealised potential to restore growth and confidence by unleashing the power of such a single market. In this respect, the Presidency welcomes the launch earlier this month of the new Single Market Act II by Commissioner Barnier. The proposals concentrate, very rightly, on areas of the single market with the highest potential for growth, and should also work as a vector for social and territorial cohesion and for integrating Europe’s markets better by improving mobility for individuals and businesses, encouraging entrepreneurship and making finance more accessible across the EU.

In addition to the above, the 12 key actions proposed concentrate on the network industries and the digital economy. Integration in these areas is essential to creating the conditions for more economic growth and new jobs. Notably, the creation of jobs is an absolute priority for the Presidency as the economic crisis has threatened social cohesion. Unemployment – especially among the young – is skyrocketing in some places. In this respect I would like to seize this opportunity to repeat our Presidency’s full commitment to finalising as many as possible pending dossiers on the Single Market Act I, in particular those covering alternative dispute resolution, on-line dispute resolution, venture capital, social investment funds and the accounting directives.

Promising progress has been achieved on patents, as was mentioned by Commissioner Barnier, and I am grateful to him, as well as to the European Parliament for the understanding and positive cooperation on this very delicate issue. We are indeed now at a watershed and if we can overcome the persisting difficulties we will at last have the chance to put in place a genuinely European patent system.

The European Council has set the goal of agreement on all these proposals by the end of 2012. In short, we will all be committed to intensifying the current pace of work. I trust there will be sufficient flexibility on the part of both legislators, enabling timely adoption.

Let me conclude by recapitulating the following imperatives: the single market is the biggest economic – but also political – asset of the European Union. Despite the recent economic downturn, the single market has continued to function and to deliver. However, in order to be able to reap all its benefits it is essential to breathe new life into that single market, with European citizens and consumers placed at its centre. I remain confident that together we will manage to successfully implement the envisaged measures in order to make the single market a vibrant and living reality for Europe’s citizens. Congratulations to Commissioner Barnier and the Commission, the European Parliament, and in particular to the Chair of the Internal Market Committee, Malcolm Harbour, to the rapporteur, Regina Bastos, and to all the other Members and other people who are working so hard to make a genuine single market part of our daily life in the European Union.


  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission. (FR) Madam President, my sincerest thanks to everyone for the high standard of this very dynamic debate and the fact that so many of you have taken part.

Many of you – Mr Scicluna at the start, Ms Werthmann, Mr Obermayr – have said that we needed the single market for growth. I would reiterate that it is not enough just for the single market to function well. There are plenty of initiatives – whether national, private, public or European – that should encourage growth, but the single market is a necessary condition for this. If it is working well, all the private and public initiatives that support the single market will work better and be more effective.

That is why I cannot agree with Mr Zéribi, who was not here when I spoke and who has now left, but who criticised me several times for being smug. That was frankly not the tone of my comments. There is no place for smugness, nostalgia or sadness at the moment. None at all.

We need to take stock of the progress we have made, and many of the political groups have emphasised the amount of progress in terms of jobs. Mr Ferreira has also left but he talked of a race to the bottom. That is not true. The 2 500 000 students who have taken part in Erasmus, the lowering of mobile phone tariffs by 70 %, the millions of citizens who now have access to cheaper airfares: that is not a race to the bottom. These are the advantages of the single market.

However, I think we should also be looking ahead. Mr Pargneaux was just talking about the new model. Indeed we should be and are working together on very practical initiatives as part of this new economic and social model. Mr Pargneaux was asking about closer cooperation initiatives. Take the example of patents: here is a practical initiative for closer cooperation that I presented a year and a half ago and you supported, which will clearly lead to many new jobs through the smart protection of inventions throughout the single market. And the basic bank account, which you called for unanimously. These initiatives are part of this model.

This is not smugness. We need to watch out, however, because, as Mr Repo and Mr Schmidt said – they used the word protectionism – the single market is currently in the paradoxical situation of being the first potential victim of the crisis if we let protectionism, national withdrawal and nationalism, which we sense is on the increase everywhere because of the crisis, run riot at the exact moment when the single market is our best chance, our leading asset for getting out of the crisis. We must ensure it is working well and is destined to become what both you and I believe in: a competitive social market economy. All four of these words are important; not just one or two of them as we have perhaps thought, even in Brussels, in the last 20 years.

Just briefly, many of you – Ms Vergnaud, Mr Zéribi, Mr Creutzmann and Mr Correia de Campos – spoke about networks. These are the arteries of the single market. That is why we made them a priority in the Single Market Act II. There is plenty to do in this field.

Mr Creutzmann and Mr Pirker mentioned the issues concerning railways, which are dealt with by the Committee on Transport and Tourism and its chair, Mr Simpson. The procedures we have for certifying rail companies and approving rolling stock are much too lengthy, much too expensive. This is not liberalisation, this is encouraging harmonisation so that the free movement of people and goods can work. We have work to do on harmonisation including, Mr Correia de Campos, in the field of energy. The lack of a single market in energy, which Ms Vergnaud also mentioned, costs consumers EUR 13 billion.

We therefore need to harmonise the single energy market. I could give other examples in the maritime sector. Why is it – and this is just one example – that when it arrives in Naples, cargo that comes from Rotterdam has to undergo the same formalities as cargo from Shanghai? That is not a single market. We need to sort out these problems practically. That is the aim of all the measures we will be taking with Commissioner Kallas, in the Single Market Act II. I would reiterate to Mr Becker that we are working together, just as you are. I am not working alone but with 12 of my fellow Commissioners, which means that the Single Market Acts I and II implement the work of many of the European Parliament’s committees. This is particularly the case with Commissioner Kroes, my colleague who is responsible for the digital agenda. I was very interested in what the committee chair, Mr Harbour said, but also Mr Rübig, Ms Rapti, Mr Arias Echeverría, whom I thank very much, and Ms Jazłowiecka, Ms Stihler too, and Mr Creutzmann, on the digital single market.

The task we have taken on is a vast one, I believe, but it is not being executed quickly enough. Very soon we will need to be thinking about what the Single Market Act III could consist of, in 2014. Mr Harbour, we should probably focus on new measures to give the digital single market a boost. I am expecting to talk to Commissioner Kroes and my other colleagues about this.

Mr de Jong and Mr Karas mentioned SMEs and product safety. I worry a great deal – and Commissioner Tajani does too – that the measures we are taking in the Single Market Act will be approved or rejected on the basis of whether they are advantageous or disadvantageous for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Trust me.

I just want to ask you, as I am asking the Council, Mr Mavroyiannis, whom I thank for being here, to speed up the adoption of certain texts, on public procurement, Mr Tarabella, accounting standards, and capital requirements IV, for which we have issued some proposals on transparency as the rapporteur Mr Karas knows, which should encourage the financing of SMEs by the banking sector.

These are some very concrete texts. If you look at each one of them in detail, you will find they contain measures that are more favourable to or less restrictive for SMEs. To Mr Kósa, who raised the issue of daily living for disabled people – for which I thank him – I want to say that as far as product safety is concerned, we will be very mindful of this, along with Commissioner Reding, when special measures are proposed in 2013 on the access of disabled people to a larger number of products.

Many of you mentioned the social dimension – the competitive social market economy – and I thank you for that, particularly Ms Regner, Ms Rühle, Mr de Jong and Mr Rübig. Once we know something has to be done and we need to introduce reforms, one of the keys to this is social dialogue, which is something some countries do better than others. For example, I could compare the high standard of social dialogue that takes place in Germany with a frequent absence of social dialogue in my own country. We cannot reform, we cannot win the competitiveness and sustainable growth battle without social cohesion, without social dialogue, and without respect for the social partners.

I want my agreement with this to be noted, and I also want to say to anyone who is worried about privatisation, Ms Rühle and Ms Regner, that the treaty clearly and, I believe, definitively stipulates that each country is free to choose how it organises its public services. I would be the first person, wherever I am, to protect this freedom of choice when it comes to the standard of public services.

I should just say, however, that within the framework of this freedom, if one or two countries decide to use a different economic model, it is their sovereign right to use external service providers for some public service roles. In that case we would be accountable for compliance with the rules on public procurement and concessions, and particularly the rules on transparency. That was my intention when I tabled certain texts on public procurement and concessions, but I am totally committed to each country having this freedom of choice, particularly when it comes to protecting public services.

I would like to thank Mr Schwab and Mr Buşoi for raising the matter of implementation again, as did Mr Mavroyiannis. I am encouraged on this matter by Mr Van Rompuy and the European Council’s call for the rapid, concrete implementation by Europe’s governments of many of the texts we have presented and, along with you and the Commission, I will be ensuring that we can reach proper agreements over the next few weeks or months.

Mr Bufton, earlier on, and Ms Mazej Kukovič mentioned the very important external dimension of the single market. We are not alone. We must continue to be open to trade as a continent, but without the naivety of which we have demonstrated too much in the past. We need to take a good look at the rest of the world, which sometimes still hopes Europe will be there but no longer expect us to be, whether it is Brazil, China, the United States of America or India.

So let us consolidate the single market. Honourable Members, I can assure you that when you are in these big countries – I was in Brazil last week – you find that the only reason why they have respect for Europeans is because of the scale of the single market with its 500 million consumers and 22 million companies.

While I am on the subject of the rest of the world, Mr Alves, I have not forgotten the place or role of the outermost regions. As part of the follow-up to the report by Mr Solbes on Europe’s Outermost Regions and the Single Market, which I commissioned, we are preparing some more specific but very practical measures for State aid and innovation.

While I am also on the subject of consumer and citizen protection, I can reiterate to Mr Kósa that I am very concerned about the daily living conditions of disabled people. That is why I have asked the Council for a mandate to launch a discussion on the issue of intellectual property and to discuss an exception for people who are hard of hearing; I am an active supporter of the social enterprise sector, as you know. Many companies are in fact oriented towards disabled people.

I can tell Mr Karas, who spoke about citizen and consumer protection, that I believe every citizen is necessary in the battle for the single market and competitiveness.

So there we are, honourable Members. Mr Paška and Mr Moreira mentioned the completion of the single market in employment. This is also one of our proposals in the Single Market Act II, most notably the development of a European public recruitment service, with EURES. There are not enough online curriculum vitae. We are going to increase this capacity considerably and also encourage cross-border recruitment.

Finally, not with propaganda – this was the word used by Mr Ferreira but I do not think he was right – or smugness, but simply with pride in the work done by our predecessors along the lines of Jacques Delors’s proposal for a single market, let us look ahead and open up the debate with Europe’s citizens.

Over the last few days, many of us have taken part in discussions as part of Single Market Act Week – Ms Thun und Hohenstein mentioned the one in Warsaw. We have had lots of discussions. I was talking with Mr Harbour about the success of the 90-92 generation, where we saw young people who had plenty to say. We need to listen to people. I would like it if – including at the Commission – we could change the ‘top down’ way we communicate, as if we were saying ‘we are always right in Brussels’. That is not true. There are masses of ideas, criticisms and suggestions that should come from the bottom up.

Along the lines of what we did for the first time with Single Market Act Week, I am going to be taking other initiatives with my colleagues to open the debate with European citizens, where we ask those on the ground, consumers, unions, professionals and small businesses, to put forward their ideas. I am repeating what Ms Corazza Bildt and Ms Sehnalová said: a debate for citizens, a cultural dimension, Mr Schwab. Cultural means with citizens. It means not only talking technical, about money and laws, but also asking for people’s opinions. Many of you have taken part in these debates, and I am going to be taking other high-profile initiatives, particularly through social networks and the internet, to open up this crucial, interactive debate on the future and the consolidation of the single market.


  President. - Thank you, Commissioner. You know how important we think what you have just said is, that social dialogue must be respected in each country.


  Regina Bastos, rapporteur. − (PT) Madam President, I should like first to say thank you for this excellent debate. It was a very constructive debate and a debate that showed that the single market really is a great achievement of the European project. I welcome the presence of Mr Mavroyiannis and his participation in this debate; I am grateful to fellow members for their constructive approach – some of them taking a sceptical stance, which is understandable – and heartily thank Commissioner Barnier for the dedication and enthusiasm he brings to the debate on these questions, on these issues of the internal market and of the political will to solve them.

We still have many answers to give citizens. They are dissatisfied and disillusioned and expect more of us, more of the Council, more of the Commission and more of the Member States.

This balance sheet is very useful, this 20-year review is important but, as many have said here, it is important to open the door in order to look towards the future. And looking towards the future involves many questions raised here and many measures already announced by the European Commission. The digital single market, the mobility of citizens, the EURES reform, the European energy market, provide eloquent examples of how far we still have to go in the future and how important and vital the path we take is in responding to this period of crisis in which we are living.

People are suffering; the public expect a great deal of politicians and of the responses that politicians are able to give to the hardships they are enduring. It is therefore important that the single market should be one of the responses to the great challenge of competitiveness, employment and economic growth. I am sure that all of us, after the celebration of these 20 years, are better equipped to provide the responses that our citizens need.


  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)


  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing.(LT) The creation of the single market should be one of the EU’s most significant achievements, and its tangible benefits should already be enjoyed by EU citizens and companies. However, until now, Member States, especially those that are more powerful economically, have been practising protectionist policies and genuine competition is still not present in the domestic market. Successful operation of such a market is directly dependent on the appropriate implementation of other EU political goals. On the subject of agriculture, farmers in some countries, including the Baltic States, still cannot make use of the benefits of the single market as they do not compete in agriculture under equal conditions, in particular because of small direct payments. In the areas of scientific research and innovation, scientists from different countries participating in European projects are subjected to different rules. In particular, they receive lower payments for the same work. There is still no transparent and uniform public procurement system. Small and medium-sized enterprises do not enjoy favourable conditions for obtaining financing. I believe that in the current crisis we should be making use of every opportunity to strengthen the single market in the EU and all of its potential for growth and employment. Therefore, I would like to encourage the Commission to take concrete actions and provide the necessary proposals for removing existing barriers that prevent the single market from functioning.


  Jorgo Chatzimarkakis (ALDE) , in writing. – (DE) The EU single market is one of the most worthwhile European achievements. Between 1992 and 2008 it created about 2.77 million jobs and increased GDP by 2.13 %. These figures clearly show the potential of a smoothly functioning EU single market. The 20 years of its existence that we are now celebrating is an anniversary of which all Europeans should be proud. However, past achievements should motivate us to remove any remaining obstructions. As the rapporteur has clearly shown us, some things in the single market are still in dire straits. The Commission has also produced a working paper containing the 20 main concerns of citizens that they consider impede the everyday smooth operation of the single market to no purpose. The problem areas identified must be solved using an integrated approach. Another problem concerns the issue of how we can ensure that every European citizen can benefit from the achievements of the EU single market, no matter where they live. The trade balance deficits within the EU may in the long term create difficulties for the Union. European policy must steer us in the opposite direction.


  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The 20th anniversary of the launch of the single market is an opportunity to reflect on the obstacles that prevent European citizens from fully enjoying their fundamental rights. An eloquent example is the right to freedom of movement, which is, unfortunately, still restricted by protectionist measures. If European citizens and consumers represent the core of the European project, measures taken at European level must facilitate their access to the labour market and at the same time give them the fundamental freedom to move freely within the territory of the EU.

For that reason, I believe that the time has come for us to talk about a relaunch of the single market which will lead to genuine inclusion and restore the faith of European citizens in this market. I welcome the steps taken thus far by the European Commission in this direction, but I urge the European executive to be more resolute in penalising the protectionist tendencies of certain Member States.


  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The European single market has a handsome track record of 500 million consumers, 21 million businesses, EUR 2 800 billion of trade within the EU and EUR 1 500 billion of global trade. It has transformed the way we live, buy things, work, learn and travel.

In addition, the rights of millions of European citizens, who can do these things in the country of their choosing, are protected by European law in all Member States. The implementation in practice of the idea of a single market has made it possible, and is still making it possible, to improve this process constantly. This is precisely why I support the idea that European citizens must become increasingly involved in the decision-making process, and in 2013 the European Year of Citizens will be a good opportunity for them to speak their minds about their wishes and dreams.


  Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – The Single Market is one of the most tangible results of European integration for citizens. Yet, despite the significant accomplishments, the present dynamics of the market still do not match what citizens expect of it. In the midst of the economic and financial crisis, a well functioning Single Market is needed more than ever. Europe needs a policy for growth and employment and I strongly believe that the Single Market is key to sustainable recovery. Therefore we should aim for a Single Market that stimulates economic growth and job creation but also considers citizens’ hopes, fears and expectations. Ultimately, it is always the citizens who will define change and who will make things happen. The levels of success of the Single Market will be gauged by the degree of support and trust it will get from the average anonymous citizen. The Single Market should be holistic in its concept and structure, thus achieving a balance between an open economy stimulating economic growth and job creation and an economic system fully integrating citizens’ concerns and at the same time giving a human face to the market by championing citizens’ interests, protecting consumers’ rights and enabling SMEs to compete effectively.


  András Gyürk (PPE), in writing. (HU) As rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, please allow me briefly to highlight the concerns of citizens on energy and telecommunications, and recommend solutions to improve the position of small and medium-sized enterprises. The main source of consumer dissatisfaction in the energy sector is that energy bills are too complicated and they do not provide information on why energy prices have risen in recent times. Regulations in many Member States are very accommodating, and so the energy providers are not compelled to provide consumers with appropriate information. To protect consumer rights properly the Member States must transpose EU legislation into practice as soon as possible.

The biggest problem with telecommunications is the quality of internet service, while prices and service packages are also very difficult to compare. With a view to monitoring service quality and prices we need to reinforce the role of the regulatory authorities and the consumer protection bodies, ensuring transparency. Small and medium-sized enterprises have problems in accessing financial assistance from Member States and the EU. SMEs find it difficult to access tender information, and they have no employees with experience in writing bids. Consequently it would be a great help for SMEs if Member States were to introduce ‘one-stop-shop administration’ for drawing EU and government financial assistance.


  Edit Herczog (S&D), in writing. (HU) Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the single market changed the lives, work and travel of European citizens, becoming an integral part of our lives. Enterprises were given the opportunity to cross borders into other European markets. Without the single market there is no European Union; this is the basis of the prosperity that makes Europe stronger. We have to do everything we can for the single market to continue flourishing, so that our children can live in a safe Europe in 20 years’ time, with greater access to what they value. To this end, what do we have to do? We have to open up our minds to let creativity and knowledge flow freely, resulting in innovation and growth. We have connected our transport networks, and now we have to connect our energy and telecommunication networks too, which will ultimately connect 500 million Europeans. We have to create a unified Europe that will be there for our grandchildren, but also one in which the young people entering the labour market just now do not feel like a ‘lost generation’ either. Ladies and gentlemen, let us dream big, let us dream about a unified and flourishing Europe.


  Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. – The Single Market is the very essence of European integration. In 20 years intra-European trade has been expanded by four times, as has the FDI between EU countries. Yet we are continuously faced with non-implementation of existing EU directives. About 150 bottlenecks still cause serious distortion and fragmentation in the functioning of the European market. The new Member States find the resistance to opening the services market especially disappointing and demoralising. This reflects in the nutshell the major problems and internal contradictions of the EU – insufficient political commitment coupled with short-term national preferences over the common good. Simply enhancing the role of the Commission to enforce the directives will not solve the problem. The EU first needs to address two dramatic weaknesses: 1. the alarmingly insufficient and unequal level of competitiveness motivating several Member States to protectionism instead of conducting genuine structural reforms; 2. failure to fully understand that in the present demographic situation, where only 2-3 taxpayers are left for one retired person, the model of the established welfare state is not and will not be sustainable. We need to complete the Single Market as fast as possible, to boost the economy; this also means launching the Digital Single Market without delay!


  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) Twenty years after the birth of the free single market, the principles of free movement of goods, people, capital and services exist only as small beginnings, and these small beginnings have already managed to throw Europe into a serious crisis. The liberalisation of the capital market envisaged by the Maastricht Treaty under the motto of market self-regulation brought about the current bank/euro/economic crisis. Still the EU does not realise that its strength lies in the variety of its different economic cultures existing side by side. Despite this, we are hell-bent on centralisation and standardisation – the so-called harmonisation. Already a call is coming for further deregulation and more competition in the railway sector, since, it is said, only this can ensure better quality and falling prices. It is just that European-born citizens have had completely different experiences as consumers. The wrong approach of centralisation and inflation of the Brussels bureaucracy must end, as must the standardisation that contributed to the current crisis. The planned banking supervision is to be welcomed in principle but will not be able to make any substantial contribution to ending the euro crisis, since this requires a total reform of the currency union.


  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE), in writing. – The main concern of European citizens about the functioning of the Single Market is that it still does not fully function. Issues that were initially supposed to be water under the bridge long ago have not been properly addressed. For example, a digital signature was first mentioned in EU legislation as being equal to a physical signature already more than a dozen years ago. In many Member States it still remains a faint dream and very few steps are actually taken to adapt to the changing society and business environment of the 21st century. The EU needs to step up and promote the implementation of modern e-Services along with common standards in order to build a Digital Single Market and facilitate the interoperability of cross-border systems. Initiatives such as STORK 2.0 carry huge importance in achieving the necessary results. After addressing those issues and planning future activities, the Council and the Commission should make efforts to implement all legislation strictly and promptly in all Member States. The future of the Single Market should not depend on the good will of the slowest, but on the coherent hard work of all Member States.


  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. – (EL) The free circulation of goods is the cornerstone of the EU. The single market is an essential element in implementing the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. However, as the Commission’s report emphasises, there are gaps and malfunctions in the working of the single market which prevent Europeans from making full use of it. The single market needs to be given a new breath of life, placing citizens and European consumers at the heart of its concerns, so that they can take full advantage of the benefits of this market and thus contribute to the territorial, economic and social cohesion of the European Union. I congratulate the rapporteur on the special importance she attaches to small and medium-sized enterprises, because an improvement in the entrepreneurship, internationalism and competitiveness of European SMEs, which are the backbone of the European economy, is of fundamental importance.


  Monika Smolková (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The single market is the conquest of our era. If our citizens and businesses have concerns, it is only because of a lack of information. I therefore agree with the call on the Commission to make use of all available technological resources in order to launch a dialogue with the citizens on the single market. We should inform the public of the advantages of the single market, practical and concrete solutions to their day-to-day problems, and their rights, and encourage them to participate in the creation of a competitive, fair and balanced market by organising information campaigns and by setting out the 20 main concerns.

Special attention should be paid to strengthening the Points of Single Contact project, in which it will be possible to provide information on conducting business in the Member States. I also agree with the call on the Commission to ensure that all citizens are entitled to obtain a European Health Insurance Card on request, to harmonise registration certificates for motor vehicles, and also to create a modern framework for the recognition of professional qualifications, which would contribute to increasing the competitiveness of Europe.


  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) In October, 20 years on from the creation of the single market, the Commission adopted the Single Market Act II – ‘Together for new growth’. This document focuses on the development of networks that are fully integrated into the single market, the promotion of cross-border mobility for citizens and businesses, support for the digital economy right across Europe and the consolidation of social entrepreneurship, cohesion and consumer confidence.

The single market in the transport, energy and communications sector makes it necessary to eliminate the discrepancies between the transport, energy and communications infrastructures of the States which acceded to the EU with effect from 1 May 2004 and the infrastructures of the other Member States. In addition, since the single market is based on the mobility of citizens, I request that the barriers to the free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian workers be removed.

Finally, one of the medium-term objectives of the European Union and the Member States should be a shift towards e-government, especially in terms of its cross-border dimension. The implementation of electronic public procurement across the whole of the EU could generate savings of at least EUR 100 billion a year for public finances. I am in favour of supplementing the framework for the modernisation of EU public procurement standards by making electronic invoicing the standard method of invoicing in public procurement.


  Valdemar Tomaševski (ECR), in writing.(PL) Many obstacles continue to exist in the European Union which prevent people from deriving full benefit from the existence of a single market, and from being able to take advantage of the right to free movement. Some problems require special attention from the European Commission. Businesses continue to run up against problems in gaining access to public procurement in other Member States. This applies as much to contractors as to sub-contractors. The cause is an excessive differentiation between national practices, plus complicated administrative requirements in individual countries, along with the language barriers that still exist in official organisations, which hinder the promotion of linguistic variety in the EU. Something else that would make it easier to get the best out of the EU labour market is simplification and acceleration of procedures relating to the refund of treatment costs abroad and care, so that health and social insurance systems take the necessary steps to provide citizens who are mobile with the necessary health care. Greater mobility on the part of skilled employees may make the European economy more competitive. For this to happen, we must adopt an up-to-date model of occupational skills recognition. It needs emphasising that movement of employees between Member States must be voluntary and must go hand in hand with full respect for employee rights. Any discrimination in any Member State with regard to origin or national affiliation is unacceptable. Removal of these obstacles, in particular, will enable Europeans to benefit from the positive aspects of membership of the European Union.

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