Select Committee on European Scrutiny Sixteenth Report

12 Interim review of the Single Market



COM(07) 60

Commission Communication: A single market for citizens — Interim Report to the 2007 Spring European Council

Legal base
Document originated21 February 2007
Deposited in Parliament27 February 2007
DepartmentTrade and Industry
Basis of considerationEM of 27 March 2007
Previous Committee ReportNone
Discussed by European Council8-9 March 2007
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Purpose of the Interim Report

12.1 The legal base for the European Community's "single" or "internal market" is Article 14 of the EC Treaty. It requires the Community to adopt measures to establish an internal market without internal frontiers and in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured.

12.2 The purpose of the Interim Report is to set out the Commission's vision for the single market in the 21st century. It will be followed in the autumn by a Final Report and proposals for action. The Commission says that the Interim Report builds on the findings of its public consultations, a Eurobarometer poll, a public hearing and contributions from other Community institutions.

12.3 The Interim Report summarises the Commission's assessment of the benefits so far of the single market for individuals, businesses, the economy and the environment. It goes on to argue that the development of the market will never be complete or final. Gaps remain in the regulatory framework and the rules are not always or everywhere fully implemented and enforced. Moreover, the existing rules need review and adjustment to make the single market work better. And the market needs to continue to evolve to take account of new developments such as globalisation, the enlargement of the EU, climate change and technological innovation.

The Commission's vision of the single market

12.4 The Interim Report says that, in the Commission's view, the single market in the 21st century should be:

  • "A single market for consumers and citizens", which provides even more benefits for consumers and gives them greater confidence in the quality and safety of products.
  • "A single market for an integrated economy" in which the Euro will become the currency of most Member States and there is a flexible pan-European financial market.
  • "A single market for a knowledge society", which encourages the development of new high-tech goods and services, removes remaining barriers to effective competition in new business sectors with a high knowledge content and improves the law on intellectual property rights.
  • "A single market for a well regulated Europe" in which there is continuous effort to implement, enforce, simplify, update and (where appropriate) repeal existing EC regulatory legislation.
  • "A single market for a sustainable Europe", which recognises people's concerns about "the perceived disruptive impacts of globalisation".[28] The Commission believes that "[r]ecognising both the social and environment aspects of the single market are key conditions for gaining public confidence in the single market as a means to improve the quality of life … Market opening must therefore be accompanied by regional development, employment, lifelong learning, [and] social and environment policies that equip people, businesses and territories to adapt to and benefit from change".[29]
  • "A single market, open to the world". The Community needs to look outwards to the rest of the world and to capitalise on the attractions of the single market to investors and companies from outside the EU.

12.5 The Interim Report goes on to outline ways in which to achieve the Commission's vision. They include:

  • better assessment of consumer's, the public's and businesses' needs;
  • closer monitoring of the performance of the market;
  • improved assessment of the social impact of further integration and greater competition;
  • better regulation;
  • closer cooperation and coordination of regulation between the responsible authorities of Member States and between them and the EC's trading partners;
  • greater international regulatory convergence; and
  • better market information for consumers and SMEs.

12.6 The Commission says that, in the autumn, the report on the full review will:

    "focus on what needs to be changed or done differently to ensure that future single market policy is designed to take advantage of and to influence globalisation in the direction supported by EU citizens. Wherever possible the review will be accompanied by practical proposals, [and] if needed legislative proposals. Where this is not immediately possible the review will indicate the steps and the timing which will lead to concrete proposals."[30]

12.7 When the European Council considered the Interim Report on 8-9 March 2007, it took note of the Commission's vision of the single market and invited it "to submit an ambitious and comprehensive review of the Single Market as early as possible in the second half of 2007." [31]

The Government's view

12.8 The Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs at the Department of Trade and Industry (Mr Ian McCartney) tells us that the Government strongly favours strengthening the operation of the single market. He says that the Commission's Interim Report:

    "is very much in line with UK thinking, as set out in the recent DTI/HMT publication, 'The Single Market: A vision for the 21st century'. That document emphasised the need for Single Market policy to focus on the goal of promoting growth and jobs, to prioritise actions that will bring real and significant benefits to citizens, consumers and businesses, to base interventions on sound understanding of markets and economic evidence, to use the full range of Single Market tools available, including pro-active competition policy, and not to reach automatically for legislative solutions, to adhere to better regulation principles, and to improve implementation and enforcement. The UK also called for more market opening in the network industries (energy, telecoms, postal services) and in financial services and it published new economic evidence about the benefits that this could bring to the wider economy."


12.9 We draw the Interim Report to the attention of the House because of the importance of the single market. But we consider that it would be premature to recommend it for a debate because it contains no specific proposals for action. We look forward to seeing the Final Report in the autumn and will scrutinise its specific proposals in detail. Meanwhile, there are no questions we need put to the Minister about the Interim Report and we clear it from scrutiny.

28   Interim Report, page 6, last line. Back

29   Ibid, page 7, second full paragraph. Back

30   Ibid, page 10, second full paragraph. Back

31   European Council meeting on 8-9 March 2007, Presidency Conclusions, paragraph 7. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 4 April 2007