Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Seventh Report





SEC(01) 1908

Commission Working Document — Single Market Scoreboard.

Legal base:


Deposited in Parliament:

31 January 2002


Trade and Industry

Basis of consideration:

Minister's letter of 24 April 2002

Previous Committee Report:

HC 152-xxiii (2001-02), paragraph 12 (10 April 2002)

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

Cleared (decision reported on 10 April 2002)




  16.1  On 10 April we reported on the Single Market Scoreboard. We were pleased to note that, of the major Member States, the UK had the lowest number of infringement cases before the European Court of Justice. However, we asked for further information about the UK's relatively poor position on a number of other indicators. We were surprised that the Minister had not provided any explanation for the UK being ranked overall only twelfth, with 2.8% of national implementing measures overdue compared with a target of 1.5% and an EU average of 2%, nor of the document's observation that the UK is one of the most difficult countries to trade with.

Minister's letter

  16.2  The Minister for Competition, Consumers and Markets (Miss Melanie Johnson) comments:

"Since the last Scoreboard was published in November 2001, DTI has led a strenuous effort across both central departments and the devolved administrations to improve the UK's record of transposing Single Market directives into UK law. I am very pleased to report a marked improvement in the UK's performance by the time of the 2002 Spring Council in Barcelona, we were ranked 3rd in the league table and had only 1.3% of national implementing measures overdue, compared with an EU average of 1.8%. We therefore achieved the 1.5% target set for that Council and joined Denmark, Sweden and Finland, which were previously identified as those Member States with the best transposition records. Inevitably, these scores and positions will fluctuate over time as different directives included in the Scoreboard are transposed by each Member State, but I am delighted that we have regained our place amongst the better performers.

"You also noted the survey finding reported in the November Scoreboard that the UK was one of the most difficult countries to trade with. Cabinet Office lead on the better regulation agenda and considered the survey in detail. They point out that the survey rankings for ease of trading differed by only 10% between the easiest and most difficult and that the UK was not significantly different from the majority of Member States. We should not read too much into this one finding. In response to another question in that survey as to whether perceived trading difficulties had caused co untries to stop trading with another EU state, the countries most frequently identified were France. Germany and Italy. In contrast, several other studies (for example. by the OECD and the Economist Intelligence Unit) show that the UK is the largest recipient of inward investment in Europe and figures show that we have one of the most lightly regulated of the world's economies."


  16.3  We thank the Minister for her reply. However, in future we would like explanations of the UK's relative position to be clearly set out in the Explanatory Memorandum.


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