Position on the European Commission’s initiative on identifying and addressing barriers to the single market

In March 2020 the European Commission (EC) launched a communication1on identifying and addressing barriers to the single market aiming to highlight the most relevant areas of concern for businesses and consumers, to identify their root causes and set out ways to address them. This initiative is intended to strengthen the basis on which the EC can ensure that Europe can deliver growth, prosperity and stability for its citizens and businesses at home and globally.

A year before the European Council called on the EU and the Member States to remove remaining unjustified obstacles to the single market, while stressing that no new barriers should be created.2According to the EC, the main root causes for the barriers to the single market relate to regulatory choices at the EU and national level, transposition, implementation and enforcement of legislation, the administrative capacity and practices in the Member States, and the general business and consumer environment.

The EC suggests a mix of measures at both the EU and national levels to address these barriers, such as digitalisation of public administration and better communication to help businesses and citizens or better legislation, implementation and enforcement.

The EC urges the Member States to take responsibility to address burdensome regulations and procedures that are within their remit and to ensure that their negative impact on the single market is compliant with EU law. While e-government, reduction of bureaucracy, regulatory impact assessment and the application of mutual recognition principle are much needed and welcome initiatives, such policies as tax harmonisation, restrictions on the posting of workers and banning of geo-blocking undermine the four freedoms and damage the single market and free trade.

Full position can be found here.