EU has last chance to improve services markets. Speaking after publication of the Commission communication on the Single Market in a changing world and during Annual Growth Survey, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren commented:
“While the Commission survey paints a positive picture of the EU economies, it does not reflect the sad fact that retail and wholesale are suffering more and more from protectionist and populist measures and local rules, as its earlier report on Retail Fit for the 21st Century highlighted. We regret that the EU institutions have not been able to do more over the past five years to improve conditions for retail and cross-border services, and ensure that the Services Directive – which was adopted in 2006, finally delivers the benefits for the EU economy that it should.”
One of the few remaining legislative proposals that could improve conditions for all services provides, including retailers and wholesalers, would be the rapid adoption of the Commission proposal for a notification procedure for authorisation schemes and requirements related to services. This would allow draft national rules to be assessed by the Commission prior to adoption. This would not only avoid costly and time-consuming infringement cases, but make a major contribution to improving implementation of existing rules under the Services Directive.
Yet this highly needed proposed legislation is making no progress in the Council.
Verschueren added: “Services make up over 70% of EU GDP, yet the Council is currently blocking progress on a notification process which could make a major difference to the single market in services and the EU economy. Some Member States may have to change current ways of working. The current tools at the Commission’s disposal make it almost impossible for a clear principle which Member States signed up to 12 years ago – that rules under the directive should be non-discriminatory, justified and proportionate at national, regional and local level – to be enforced.”
We agree wholeheartedly with the Commission that ‘deeper integration today requires more political courage and determination than 25 years ago’, and for the need for ‘a renewed commitment by Leaders to all the dimensions of the Single Market.’