Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Seventh Report


47 Single Market Scoreboard

(27720)

11867/06

SEC(06) 1003

Commission Staff Working Paper: Internal Market Scoreboard No 15

Legal base
Document originated18 July 2006
Deposited in Parliament24 July 2006
DepartmentTrade and Industry
Basis of considerationEM of 29 September 2006
Previous Committee ReportNone
Discussed in Council25 September 2006
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Background

47.1 As part of the Internal Market Action Plan agreed in June 1997, the Commission undertook to produce a "Single Market Scoreboard" during each six-monthly Presidency of the European Union. Its purpose is to monitor the functioning of the Single Market and allow Member States to compare their performance in certain key areas, and, having previously been produced towards the end of each Presidency, it is now to be published annually.

The document

47.2 This Scoreboard is the 15th edition, and is in three parts. The first considers progress in transposing[117] Single Market Directives. It notes that the European Council in Barcelona in 2002 agreed that no Member State should have a transposition deficit[118] greater than 1.5%, and that the latest information (in June 2006) shows the UK (with 1.3%) to be sixth among the 14 Member States to meet that target. However, it was one of only four Member States to have improved its performance since the previous Scoreboard in November 2005, and the Commission highlights the fact that the average deficit for the enlarged Community as a whole has increased in this period from 1.6% to 1.9%. It adds that this reverses the downward trend in recent years at a time when the 1.5% target was for the first time within reach, and which should have led to a re-doubling of efforts by the Member States.

47.3 This part of the Scoreboard also deals with the number of infringement cases against Member States for incomplete or incorrect transposition. It notes that, although the Internal Market Strategy for 2003-06 set a target of 50% for the reduction in infringement cases by 2006, no Member State has achieved this, and that only five — which does not include the UK — have managed to reduce the number of cases compared with 2003.

47.4 The second part of the Scoreboard discusses speeding up the resolution of single market problems for business and citizens. It notes the Commission's successful use of two informal methods: discussion with a Member State's experts to resolve issues on a group of infringement cases ("Package Meetings") and SOLVIT — an on-line problem solving network for complaints about incorrect application of rules by public authorities. It notes that, between July 2004 and July 2005, a total of 25 package meetings took place, with 40% of cases discussed being resolved within the next six months, and that the SOLVIT case flow in 2005 increased by 60% compared with 2004 (though it cautions that a lack of staff in certain Member States will hamper further expansion).

47.5 The third part of the report examines the follow up to a Commission Recommendation in 2004 (which summarised best practice for the current and timely transposition, and set out five recommendations to Member States). It notes that, in May 2005, the Commissioner had asked national ministers what had been done to implement the Recommendation, and that the replies indicated a strong link between Member States which had implemented the most recommendations and those which had performed well in the timely transposition of Directives, and had stayed below the 1.5% deficit ceiling.

The Government's view

47.6 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation at Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville) says that the main aim of the report is to monitor a range of indicators of the health of the single market and that, although it has no direct policy implications, it is useful both in evaluating developments and as a spur to further progress. He adds that, insofar as it helps towards improving the effectiveness of the single market, it is important in achieving Lisbon Strategy objectives and increasing the Community's competitiveness.

Conclusion

47.7 These Scoreboards are a useful source of information on the relative performance of Member States, including the UK, in transposing Single Market Directives and reducing infraction cases. They also highlight where Member States have failed to meet promptly and properly their obligations in this respect. For that reason, we think it right, in clearing this latest report in the series, to draw it to the attention of the House.


117   Implementing through national legislation. Back

118   The percentage of Directives not notified as transposed, as compared to the total which should have been, by a given deadline. Back


 
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Prepared 26 October 2006