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Issue 1 | May 2011

Together for new growth: 12 actions of the Single Market Act

Determined to celebrate the single market's 20th anniversary by the end of 2012 with a list of solid achievements, the Commission adopted the Single Market Act on 13 April on the initiative of Commissioner Barnier in close cooperation with President Barroso and colleagues. The Single Market Act announces 12 "levers", key actions that will stimulate growth and confidence in Europe, by promoting competitiveness and social progress. Issues as diverse as workers' mobility, easier access to financing for SMEs, strengthened consumer confidence, particularly in the digital market and more efficient Trans-European Networks, all form part of the package.

One of the most emblematic key actions of the Single Market Act is the creation of a European patent, which will radically reduce, by up to 80%, the cost of protecting our industrial property in Europe. Such unitary protection, coupled with easier access to cross-border venture-capital funds for SMEs, should give Europe's enterprises even more leverage for growth, jobs and exports.

Plans are made to promote and support social enterprises by creating a European framework for mutual investment funds. And a commitment to guarantee a better application of rules governing the rights of workers posted abroad is in the pipeline, to prevent and penalise any abuse of existing labour law. In the context of creating more leverage in the field of social cohesion, the Commission has committed itself to actions that will support services of general interest in their mission to guarantee better access and quality.

"Now is the time to act together for growth..."

Watch Michel Barnier's video message on the Single Market Act »

News from the Parliament » « TOP
MEPs reach consensus on relaunch of the Single Market

In adopting three Reports on the Single Market Act on 6 April with an overwhelming majority of almost 600 votes, Parliament managed to speak loud and clear. It has expressed strong support for the relaunch of the Single Market. This had appeared far from granted after the IMCO (Internal Market Committee) vote on 16 March when political groups had failed to agree on a compromise on workers rights and services of general interest, causing socialist and green MEPs to abstain on the three reports. Active discussions between key actors followed and finally resulted in a consensus.

Malcolm Harbour MEP and IMCO Chairman:
"The European Parliament has been a champion for the Single Market Act. Under the leadership of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, MEPs have highlighted the untapped opportunities for consumers, citizens and enterprises in the world's largest "Single Market". The Single Market Act sets out clear targets to revitalise Europe's economy in a "partnership for growth".

See also:
Interview with Malcolm Harbour on the Single Market
Website: IMCO (Internal Market Committee)
Website ECON (Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee)

Latest news » « TOP
Industry signed Memorandum of Understanding on the fight against counterfeit goods sold online

On May 4, the European Commission hosted the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the sale of counterfeit goods over the Internet. Major internet platforms such as eBay and right holders from a wide variety of industry sectors signed. Signatories included the fast moving consumer goods industry as well as those producing luxury goods, wines and spirits, toys, sporting goods, consumer electronics, film, software and games. The Memorandum confirms the commitment of right holders and internet platforms to work together to fight the sale of counterfeit goods online.

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One European Patent for 25 countries radically reduces costs and red tape

The European Commission tabled a revolutionary package on unitary patent protection on 13 April. After a transitional period, the costs for obtaining a European patent with unitary effect in 25 Member States would be reduced to approximately €4 700, in comparison to having to pay about €36 000 for obtaining a patent in 27 Member States now. The Commission hopes Spain and Italy will eventually join the enhanced cooperation.

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DG MARKT's new organigram

DG MARKT's organigram has changed, to strengthen policy coordination and give more focus to certain areas of work. In accordance with the Commission mobility rules, several heads of units have moved to different units after the reorganisation. DG MARKT has taken the opportunity to change some units' titles to make them more understandable to stakeholders.

The new organigram
Three years added to transitional periods for buying agricultural land in Lithuania and Slovakia

The Commission granted Lithuania and Slovakia a three-year extension to their transitional period for agricultural land purchase until 2014 as it did to Hungary and Latvia earlier. The transitional period prohibits the purchase of agricultural land by EU citizens who are not Lithuanian or Slovak as an exception to the free movement of capital. The two Member States have requested an extension as they felt lifting the restrictions now would lead to serious disturbances of their agricultural land markets. However, the Commission calls on Lithuania and Slovakia to speed up their efforts to complete structural agricultural reforms and prepare their markets for full liberalisation.

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Conference Reports » « TOP
2 May: European Central Bank and European Commission hold joint conference to strengthen the foundations of integrated and stable financial markets

The conference featured a number of top-level financial market participants, regulators, academics and political leaders discussing the future of European financial markets in the wake of the establishment of the new supervisory architecture in Europe.

Commissioners Rehn and Barnier stressed that Europe has taken decisive and comprehensive action to defend financial stability: "A strong and independent new supervisory architecture will establish the European perspective, across individual financial institutions and across national borders. It provides the necessary means to effectively address the ever closer link between micro- and macro-prudential issues in an integrated financial market. ".

Vice-President Vitor Constâncio emphasized that: "the establishment of the European Systemic Risk Board and the European Supervisory Authorities in the EU is an important milestone that should provide the appropriate incentives to avoid excessive risk taking and contribute to creating a level playing field, benefiting the financial integration within the monetary union".

Two reports were officially launched at the conference:
The ECB "Report on Financial Integration in Europe" and the Commission's "Financial Stability and Integration Report".

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Visits and Missions » « TOP
Commissioner Barnier visits Bucharest
31 March 2011

Commissioner Barnier visited Bucharest in the context of his 'tour of EU capitals'. He told Romanian authorities to urgently modify their current law on Public-Private Partnerships, which he described as manifestly in breach of the EU public procurement rules. However, the Romanian government retorted that additional procedural requirements imposed on Romania to ensure the regularity of public expenditure were overly burdensome and almost discriminatory. He warned that the inevitable multiplication of actors would make the system even more prone to bribing as well as slower and more inefficient. Plans to send a Commission Task Force to evaluate difficulties on the ground were agreed on.

Another topic was the highly problematic situation of "brain drain" currently affecting Romania for professions such as doctors and computer engineers, who are emigrating to practice in France and Germany. Dramatic consequences are expected for Romania's health sector with hospitals at risk of having to close for a lack of qualified staff. Michel Barnier insisted on the importance of building greater administrative capacity in all relevant sectors.

Commissioner Barnier visits Stockholm
14 April 2011

In Stockholm, Commissioner Barnier participated in a televised parliamentary debate on the topics of crisis management and resolution frameworks for banking. The Commission welcomed the input given by Swedish authorities on these subjects and emphasized that Europe can learn invaluable lessons from the Swedes, especially on how they handled their banking crisis in the nineties. The challenge for the EU is to find a resolution system that has the necessary tools to manage financial entities in difficulty without having to call on the taxpayer and without jeopardizing financial stability. "Our banking system should not continue to privatize profits and make the taxpayer bear the losses." Michel Barnier said.

Commissioner Barnier's SpeechFrançais

Jonathan Faull and Nadia Calviño visit the US
26-29 April 2011

DG MARKT's Director General Jonathan Faull and Deputy Director General Nadia Calviño visited Washington DC and New York between 26 and 29 April. They had meetings with representatives of the US Treasury Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), the US Trade Representative, Congress and the financial services industry. They discussed in particular the progress on strengthening and improving regulation of the financial sector agreed at the G20 level, including the regulation of banks, credit rating agencies, auditing companies, derivatives and trading venues. Detailed discussions took place on the timing and content of these initiatives in the EU and the US. Further issues discussed were protection of intellectual property rights and reciprocity in public procurement.

Consultations » « TOP
05.04.2011 - 22.07.2011 Company Law The EU corporate governance framework

24.03.2011 - 31.07.2011 Gambling Green Paper on online gambling services in the Internal Market
For your diary » Latest publications » Your opinion »
Conference on European Company Law: The way forward

The Conference will bring together practitioners and scholars from a variety of backgrounds to discuss key company law issues, with a view to taking stock of the state of play and reflecting on possible steps to take in the future.

19/05/2011, Budapest
European Inventor Award 2011

The event is organised jointly by the European Patent Office, the Hungarian EU Council Presidency, the European Commission and the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office. Prizes will be awarded for the following categories: industry, SMEs, Research, Non-European countries, and Lifetime achievement.

23/05/2011, Brussels
European Commission's High Level Conference on Defence and Security Industries and Markets

This event is being organised in the context of the transposition of the two Defence related Directives (2009/43/EC on transfers and 2009/81/EC on procurement) and will provide the opportunity to discuss the current state and future perspectives of the sector which is of strategic importance for Europe.

07/06/2011, Brussels
Public Hearing on Directive 2004/48/EC and the challenges posed by the digital environment

This Public Hearing, organised by DG Internal Market and Services with support from the European Economic and Social Committee, takes place in the framework of the public consultation following the publication on 22 December 2010 of the Commission's Report on the Application of Directive 2004/48/EC.

The hearing will focus on the specific issues related to the digital environment.

Single Market News Issue 60

Published 11 April 2011

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