(content provided by EuroCommerce) The European Single Market is very important to retailers, but certain improvements are needed - according to the organisation of European wholesalers and retailers, EuroCommerce.
SOLVIT and Single Digital Gateway
The European Commission yesterday published its Single Market Compliance Package. The package should improve access of all retail and wholesale business, but especially SMEs, to new markets and help them resolve cross-border problems. Reacting to the publication, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren underlined the importance for the retailers and wholesalers of a better functioning Single Market: “Retailers and wholesalers depend on the Single Market to ensure that Europe’s 500 million consumers have access to the best products at affordable prices. We are therefore its most enthusiastic exponents. The package of measures announced today are a further positive step in making the Single Market work better.”
EuroCommerce supports the proposal for a Single Digital Gateway and improvement of SOLVIT. This fast-track informal problem-solving mechanism can help retailers and wholesalers, particularly SMEs, to overcome obstacles when trying to sell products in other markets. SOLVIT centres often lack resources, expertise and have difficulties dealing with more complex cases. To improve the functioning of SOLVIT, we believe that Member States should ensure proper funding, staff, training and expertise, and make SOLVIT cases part of the European Semester process, and give associated partners access to the SOLVIT database.
On the Single Digital Gateway, EuroCommerce believes that streamlining access to national and EU contact points and improving their quality is essential to increasing trust among businesses and citizens. The Single Digital Gateway can also be an excellent tool for significant reduction of administrative burden for businesses and enabling businesses to find any information they need to operate in another Member State.
However, EuroCommerce has strong doubts about why businesses are the main focus of the Single Market Information Tool. The important issue facing our sector and others is a rising tide of protectionism by Member States in Europe, and a priority must be enforcement of Single Market rules. The Commission should develop enforcement tools to resolve infringements by Member States quickly instead of focusing on businesses. Their ideas on improving notification of national rules on services is a useful step towards this. Member States are largely responsible for (in some cases intentionally) fragmenting the Single Market, not businesses. Competition Law already provides the Commission with strong enforcement powers.
Christian Verschueren added: “We would like to see the Commission given the powers and the resources to enforce Single Market rules. We are not sure, however, whether the Single Market Information Tool, which could end up being very burdensome, will be the best way of achieving this. That said, we very much support the Commission being given stronger tools to block national laws that clearly infringe internal market rules, as is already the case under EU competition law.”