The European Union must step up the application and enforcement of Single Market law or risk losing ‘credibility and effectiveness’, according to a leaked paper to the EU executive signed by 14 member states.
The paper, obtained by EURACTIV, complains that “a lack of clarity, consistence, inadequate implementation, poor enforcement and lack of compliance undermine the EU’s credibility and effectiveness”.
The document, which was sent to the Commission on Tuesday (21 January), is signed by Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.
Notably, the group does not include Germany, France, Italy or Spain, the bloc’s largest economies.
The paper also calls for the introduction of a new watchdog – a ‘Task Force for Enforcement of Single market legislation’ – to police the enforcement and national compliance with EU law, alongside other tools such as impact assessment to scoreboards and online toolkits.
It is not the first time the EU executive has been exhorted to focus on Single Market reform by the group of predominantly northern European states.
At an EU summit last March, leaders called on the Commission to develop by March 2020 a long-term action plan for better implementation of single market rules, following a letter signed by 17 prime ministers.
The Single Market is still viewed by many member states as the EU’s biggest achievement, and has boosted the bloc’s GDP by an estimated 8-9%. But promises of Single Market reform were notably absent from the mission letters and statement by newly elected Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The paper adds that “entrepreneurs indicate that better enforcement and more uniform application of existing rules would be an important contribution to lifting barriers to trade”.
Many countries have long complained that national enforcement of EU law is inconsistent
Cyprus, Belgium, and Spain had the highest amount of open cases of late transposition of EU law, whereas the fewest were open in Estonia, Denmark and Italy.
Meanwhile, Spain, Italy, and Germany had the highest number of cases pending for incorrect transposition and/or wrong application of EU law, while Estonia had the lowest total number of open cases, according to the most recent ‘Annual report on Monitoring the Application of EU law’ and Single Market Scoreboard published last July.
“Enforcement of Single Market legislation is a joint task, and the political ownership should be increased,” the paper argued.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]