In October 2012 EU is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Single Market which was always one of the most important contributing pillars of the European integration. It is a good occasion to think about the past and future of the Single Market and about why and how we can or can not use yet the advantages of the free liberalized market.
At the beginning, in the European Coal and Steel Community, the idea of the Single Market was obviously a catalyst of the integration process. This was the platform where the first circle of the integrating countries found mutually beneficial to integrate some of their industries and powers. The big trial was exceptionally successful and the countries of the enlarging union found more and more territories where integration, cooperation and free liberalized markets contribute and facilitate their competitiveness and growth. We know that human being is like that: if two parties (or even former enemies) find a good platform which provides mutual advantages then cooperation and friendship starts very fast even between formerly opposition thinking people and countries. So may be this was the most important driving power of the integration.
But even after 20 successful year here are still many barriers to a fully functioning Single Market. What still needs to be done to make the Single Market fully operational? Naturally to sort out problems which citizens and businesses face in the Single Market. But it is still not so simple as EU is still not one country and does not speak one voice.
After the new Single Market Act (13 April 2011) has been applied and various additional proposals in relation to that will be finally adopted and implemented, as per the expectations and promises the more than 21 million businesses and 500 millions consumers in Europe will benefit more from a better functioning Single Market for venture capital, simpler accounting requirements and cheaper access to patent protection across Europe. It will be easier for citizens to get their qualifications recognised and seek a job in another Member State. It will also be easier for goods to circulate and service providers to operate cross-border, thanks to new standardisation and actions aimed at removing persistent and unjustified restrictions to the provision of services. We will finally be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Digital Single Market and a boost in e-commerce also.
About the current socio economical problems:
As Jean Monnet told once: “European Integration will be forced and contributed in crises.” Today’s we are living in a decade of a very complex and deep social and economical crisis and recession. Seems to be that after the lot of efforts and mutually advantageous cooperation platforms we still can not step to the path of the future of prosperity. Socially, industrially, monetarily we know and feel these problems. The leaders of the EU percept the importance of these problems and trying to reply for this challenges.
Emerging stronger from the crisis: the European vision
Video orig. source: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I074443&sitelang=en
EU Commission’s today’s priorities ad replies to the recession are the followings: Europe 2020 Europe’s grow strategy, Economic Governance: “The crisis exposed fundamental problems and unsustainable trends in many European countries. It also made clear just how interdependent the EU’s economies are. Greater economic policy coordination across the EU will help us to address these problems and boost growth and job creation in future.” Which contains several known sub programs like: The European Semester the Stability and Growth Pact, Addressing macro-economic imbalances, The Euro Plus Pact and Repairing the financial sector.
Market and people lost a bit their confidence in each others and in the cooperation. Something is poisoning our life. Interdependency is forcing us. We are sitting in one ship and we are much over of the point of no return. If one fail all the others feel it. Therefore EU thinks the solution is the closer, stronger, more deep financial union and stronger integration which was also helpful before in other hard times. EU thinks a banking union and a closer fiscal union might also help to solve the problems. But this is a very sensitive territory of the cooperation.
About the transport systems:
Connecting Europe – Vision of an interconnected Europe
EU thinks a smart, sustainable and interconnected transport, energy and digital networks are priorities for Europe’s economic future. Plans for more efficient transport would connect Europe’s road, rail, air and water networks, cut dependence on oil imports and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EU decided to work out new founding system and invest €50bn in infrastructure – connecting Europe, boosting competitiveness and creating jobs.
Yes, the future is the mobility and those smart mobility which is environmental friend, cost efficient and suitable to move large amount of goods and large number of people from one point to the other. In the 70s 80 s in the school we learnt that rail is the most cost efficient and environmental friend way of public mass transport and this system should be developed further and this is our future. Despite of this today’s we see millions of trucks are struggling on the European roads, stacking in traffic jams on the highways and making smog, causing day to day accidents and polluting the environment.
In EU still 80% of the goods are transported to long distances between countries by road trucks and rail transport restrained. Why do we need to poison our life more with that? We should gap back to the right track and develop the railways system and transport goods and people to long distance by rail. I am welcoming the new EU plan which aims to create a better transport system better connections: Seamlessly linking road, rail, air and water transport modes which will create a more efficient EU-wide transport network, making it easier for people and freight to travel. The plan would interconnect, by 2020, Europe’s passenger and freight transport information, management and payment systems. By 2050, all major airport hubs would have (preferably) high-speed connections to the rail network. All core seaports would be connected to the rail freight network and, where possible, to inland waterways. At the same time, the EU would extend and coordinate “user pays” and “polluter pays” principles to finance its transport infrastructure.
Which I miss from the plane is the emphasised development intention of the railways system. The reason is understandable, it is a politically sensitive territory, still millions are working in the road transport system and for them it is disadvantageous if EU clearly express that wants to restrain the long distance transport by trucks and facilitate the rail transport.
The EU Commission summarized and tried to address the citizens 20 main concerns and FAQs in a Single Market Snapshot:
These FAQ are mainly related to working and living in another member state and some about liberalizing of telecommunication and energy services. The concerns are about the followings:
Social security. Patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare.
Residence cards for non-EU family members of an EU citizen.
Professionals who have difficulties getting their qualifications recognised in another Member State.
Workers who face discriminatory employment practices.
Tax barriers for cross-border workers and employers.
Opening a bank account abroad.
Students facing discrimination regarding recognition of diplomas, fees, and financial support.
Cross-border pension and inheritance tax issues.
Cross-border car registration and tax issues.
Passenger rights. complex and costly banking and financial services.
Consumers’ confidence in on-line shopping.
The best choice and price for of the energy supply.
Quality and price of Internet and telephony services.
Businesses being discouraged from participating in foreign public tenders.
Businesses access to finance.
Burdensome rules and procedures preventing entrepreneurs and investors from doing business in another country.
VAT cross-border refund procedures.
Protection of the intellectual property rights, patent protection.
These are all known and existing complex problems. Many of us are facing these problems day to day. They should be solved if we want to live in a free united Europe. We saw in the recent months that EU did a lot in order the clear up these barriers and difficulties but EU is still far not one country and does not speak one voice especially now in the crisis not.
Although in many areas and aspects of the Single Market great progress has been achieved in the last 20 years, but the Single Market is still not performing to its full potential and there are still lot of things to do to assure full freedom, equal rights and transparency for the citizens and for the business sphere.
The 20th anniversary provides the framework for a range of activities taking place in all Member States and centred on the Single Market Week for New Growth from 15 to 20 October 2012. These activities will focus on three objectives:
Recalling the achievements of 20 years of the Single Market;
Presenting and discussing new initiatives to stimulate growth in the Single Market;
Mobilizing the views and expectations of young adults about the Single Market.
A central interactive event will be organised in Brussels on 15 October in the European Parliament. It will be a mix of stimulating debates, video presentations, discussion rounds, quizzes with the audience and the award ceremony for the “Generation 1992” competition (more details can be found here and here ) with the aim of providing input for future policy. A key focal point of the event will be on the generation of 20 year-olds, who were born in the year when the Single Market came into being and who do not remember Europe as it was before the Single Market. This theme is reflected in a short film which can be viewed here:
Many national events will be organised in the EU Member States in the days and weeks following 15 October. Their aim is to bring together citizens, businesses and public organisations to examine and discuss the state of the single market in a national context.