Select Committee on European Scrutiny Ninth Report


COM(00) 888

Commission Communication: An internal market strategy for services.

Legal base:
Document originated: 29 December 2000
Forwarded to the Council: 3 January 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 24 January 2001
Department: Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: EM of 28 February 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: March 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared


  11.1  The Lisbon European Council invited the Commission to propose a comprehensive internal market strategy to remove barriers to services in the single market. In response, the Commission has produced this Communication, which sets out the need for an internal market strategy for services by emphasising the importance of the service sector, especially information communication technology, and outlines a two-stage approach to remove barriers.

  11.2  The Communication presents the strategy as a way of encouraging changes in the way that services are provided in the internal market. It argues that firms need faster access to larger geographical markets in order to earn higher returns on innovation and to compete globally and that customers need confidence in order to engage in cross-border trade. First, the strategy focuses on barriers that can arise at different stages in the business process, from business start-ups through distribution and sales, to after-sales service. Secondly, the strategy identifies five basic principles for addressing barriers to the provision of services: it should be comprehensive, encompassing all service sectors; it should make cross-border trade as easy as domestic trade; it should ensure that business and consumers secure benefits from the new opportunities; it should keep pace with change; and it should be coherent with other policies.

  11.3  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the Commission sets out a two-stage approach for putting the strategy into action. The first stage of the action plan, for completion by the end of 2001, will involve action on specific problem areas and the launch of a survey of barriers to the free movement of services. During the next twelve months, the Commission will accelerate a number of initiatives in specific problem areas. At the same time, the Commission will analyse persistent barriers to cross-border trade in services. The Commission hopes that the Communication will also encourage the Council and Parliament to agree early in 2001 on initiatives that it has already scheduled.[41]

  11.4  The second stage, for completion by the end of 2002, will involve the Commission proposing a package of legislative and non-legislative initiatives designed to remove the barriers identified during the first stage. The aim is to remove such barriers in accordance with a precise timetable. The details of the two stages are set out in the annex.

  11.5  The Commission will present the Communication at the Internal Market Council in March and its interim conclusions on the actions needed at the end of 2001, together with any legislative proposals. A final assessment will be made at the end of 2002. The Commission says it would welcome comments on the strategy from all interested parties by 1 June 2001.

The Government's view

  11.6  The Government supports the general approach of the Commission to tackling barriers through a so-called horizontal approach (across all sectors), but expects the Commission to address barriers within specific sectors in due course.


  11.7  The document sets out in broad terms the Commission's overall strategy to develop the internal market in services for the next two years. While it does not form a proposal for legislation, we consider the document warrants a substantive report to House. We have no questions and are content to clear the document.

41   The details are set out in the annex. Back

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