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Issue 8 | January 2012

Modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive will make it easier for professionals to find skilled jobs across Europe

On 19 December 2011, the Commission adopted a proposal for modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC). As the working age population in many Member States shrinks, demand for highly skilled people between now and 2020 is projected to rise by over 16 million jobs. If Europe is to meet this demand, gaps in labour shortages need to be filled – for example through mobile and well-qualified professionals from other EU Member States. They can be a key source of growth, but only if they can easily go to where jobs are and their qualifications can be recognised in a fast, simple and reliable way.

The proposal aims at simplifying rules for the mobility of professionals within the EU by offering a "European professional card" to all interested professions, allowing for easier and faster recognition of qualifications. It will also help consumers, by inviting Member States to review the scope of their regulated professions and by addressing public concerns about language skills and the lack of effective alerts about professional malpractice, notably in the health sector.

"Europe is facing many challenges today. One of them will be the increase in demand for highly skilled jobs across the EU. I am convinced that the idea of a European professional card – an electronic certificate – is the right way forward, as it will simplify and speed up the recognition procedures for mobile professionals."

Latest news » « TOP
Modernising European public procurement to support growth and employment

On 20 December 2011, the Commission announced a revision of the public procurement Directives as part of an overall programme to thoroughly modernise public tendering in the European Union. Each year, public authorities spend 18% of GDP on goods, services and works. Given the current budgetary restrictions and economic difficulties in most Member States, public procurement policy must, more than ever, ensure the optimal use of funds in order foster growth and job creation and thereby help to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The reform of legislation on public procurement is one of the twelve priority actions set out in the Single Market Act adopted in April 2011 (IP/11/469). Commissioner Michel Barnier declared: "This reform is necessary, ambitious and realistic. I would like to make sure that the public procurement Directives become simpler and more effective and that they make life easier for those whose daily work involves public procurement. As for the proposed Directive on concessions, it represents the completion of the single market for public procurement and will, I hope, allow substantial gains in terms of the efficiency of public expenditure and economic growth in the years to come."

Further information on EU public procurement policy
 
Financial Reporting: burden reduction for micro-entities

On 15 December, the World Trade Organisation's negotiations on government procurement concluded successfully after the Parties of the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) reached agreed on an updated set of tender rules and additional market access commitments. The GPA covers trade in the domain of public procurement, globally worth 500 billion Euro annually. According to WTO estimates, the revision of the GPA will bring extra procurement opportunities worth around 100 billion Euro. In total, 15 "Parties", with the European Union counting as one Party, made commitments to expand market access that they offer to foreign companies. This means the Parties open up their domestic public procurement markets to foreign bidders. With the world currently facing economic turbulence and temptations to increase barriers rather than reduce them, the GPA Parties showed their commitment to international trade. Having open and transparent rules on procurement is the best way to achieve value for money for government expenditure as it optimises competition. Commissioner Michel Barnier, who was conducting these negotiations, declared: "Today, we have agreed on a significant opening of public procurement markets. Despite the temptations of protectionism during these times of global crisis, we have broken down barriers, not increased them. This will lead to more trade and benefit all economies, including Europe's."

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/trade-topics/public-procurement

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/
rules/gpa-wto/index_en.htm


Commission proposes a Directive on the award of Concession Contracts

Concessions are partnerships between the public sector and mostly private companies, where the latter exclusively operate, maintain and carry out the development of infrastructure (ports, water distribution, parking garages, toll roads) or provide services of general economic interest (energy, water and waste disposal for example). Concessions are the most common form of Public Private Partnership (PPP). The Commission believes a clear European legislative framework is needed for delivery of works and services under conditions of sound financial management and at best value for money. It wants high value concessions where the most efficient providers are given a fair chance of winning the contract. On 20 December, the proposal was sent to the European Parliament and Council of Ministers for adoption under the co-decision procedure.

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Commission adopts report on the implementation and effect of the Resale Right Directive

On 14 December, the European Commission adopted a report on the implementation and effect of the Resale Right Directive. The resale right is intended to ensure that authors of graphic and plastic works of art share in the economic success of their original works of art. Its application was harmonized by Directive 2001/84/EC which came into force on 1 January 2006. The report finds that while there are pressures on the European art markets, no conclusions can attribute the loss of the EU's share in the global market for modern and contemporary art to the harmonisation of provisions relating to the application of the resale right. The report also finds that while living artists and, more significantly, heirs of artists benefit from the application of the resale right, the management procedures for the resale right could be improved. The Commission proposes to establish a stakeholder dialogue, tasked with making recommendations for the improvement of the system of resale right collection and distribution in the EU. It will undertake a further reporting exercise with a view to delivering its results in 2014. The report is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/copyright/
resale-right/resale-right_en.htm

New EU fundraising rules: boosting venture capital for SMEs and easing access to credit

On 7 December, the Commission presented a strategy to promote better access to finance for SMEs with an EU Action Plan (see MEMO/11/879) which includes increasing financial support from the EU budget and the European Investment Bank and a proposal for a regulation setting uniform rules for the marketing of venture capital funds. The new regulation will make it easier for venture capitalists to raise funds across Europe for the benefit of start-ups. The approach is simple: once a set of requirements is met, all qualifying fund managers can raise capital under the designation "European Venture Capital Fund" across the EU. No longer will they have to meet complicated requirements which are different in every Member State. By introducing a single rulebook, venture capital funds will have the potential to attract more capital commitments and become bigger.

In addition to the measures presented, including €1.4 billion of new financial guarantees under the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME (2014-2020) - IP/11/1476), the European Investment Bank will keep its SME loan activity at a sustained pace, close to the 2011 level of €10 billion.

Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "We need more venture capital in Europe. By helping companies become more innovative and competitive, venture capital will create Europe's companies of the future. In order to support the most promising start-ups, venture capital funds must become bigger and more diversified in their investments. These proposals will help develop this emerging market."

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Postal Users Forum

On 12 December, at the initiative of Mr Barnier, DG MARKT organised the first Postal Users Forum. The objective was to engage directly with postal users in order to learn more about their experience of postal services in Europe. This unique event brought EU users (end consumers, SMEs, businesses and e-retailers) of postal services and operators together to analyse the effects of a liberalised postal market. Different videos featuring postal users' views were also presented. Participants were very positive about the interactive approach. They saw the forum as an opportunity to enter into direct dialogue with all stakeholders and identify constructive ways to better deliver postal services to customers across the EU.

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Commission launches Consultation on acquisitions and holdings in the financial sector

On 8 December, the European Commission launched a Consultation seeking views on the application of Directive 2007/44 EC as regards acquisitions and increase of holdings in the financial sector. Following events at the time, the Commission tabled a proposal in 2006 to minimise the scope for national supervisors to invoke rules in order to hinder cross-border mergers and acquisitions for protectionist reasons. The Directive was adopted in 2007 and laid down uniform rules and evaluation criteria for national supervisors to prudentially assess mergers and acquisitions in the financial sector. It contains a clause, calling for the Commission to review the application of the Directive and submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council, together with any appropriate proposals to review the Directive. The responses to the consultation launched today will provide important information on how the Directive has been applied at national level and will feed into a report that the Commission is to prepare. Replies can be submitted up until 10th of February. The consultation is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/
consultations/2011/acquisitions_en.htm
 
Commission proposes regulation for social investment funds

On 7 December, the Commission proposed a regulation for a strong European market in social investment funds. It introduces a new label for "European Social Entrepreneurship Funds" so investors can easily identify funds that focus on investing in European social businesses. Social businesses are companies that have a positive social impact and address social objectives as their corporate aim rather than only maximising profit. It is a growing sector in Europe, already representing 10% of all European businesses and employing over 11 million paid employees. While these businesses often receive public support, private investment via funds that invest in social entrepreneurs remains vital to their growth. However, such specialised social investment funds are either rare or when existing, not large enough. Cross-border investment in such funds is unnecessarily complicated and expensive. The approach is simple: once the requirements defined in the proposal are met, managers of social investment funds will be able to market their funds across the whole of Europe. To get the label, a fund will have to prove that a high percentage of investments (70% of the capital received from investors) is spent in supporting social business. Uniform rules on disclosure will ensure that investors get clear and effective information on these investments.

Read more:

Press release (IP/11/1512)

Social Entrepreneurship Funds

Visits and Missions » « TOP
Commissioner Barnier visits Italy

Commissioner Barnier paid an official visit to Rome on 25 November to meet President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Mario Monti. The visit focused on the theme of trust and confidence in Italy, a country that has always made a clear choice for Europe. Confidence and European solidarity are key elements to meeting the challenges that Europe and Italy face today. Michel Barnier fully supports the Italian Prime Minister's twin objectives for fiscal discipline and renewed growth. Like Mario Monti, Michel Barnier is convinced that we must make every effort to unlock Italy's potential and that the single European market's fragmentation and efficiency need to be addressed. Italy needs to re-establish its role at the heart of Europe with a clear and determined roadmap leading to greater integration. Its success can be a model to the rest of Europe in terms of bringing stability and prosperity to Europe's citizens.

 
Commissioner Barnier's visit to Malta

During his visit to Valletta Commissioner Barnier had meetings with the Minister of Finance, Mr Fenech, with the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Bonnici, with the President of the AMF, Mr Bannister and with Prime Minister Gonzi. Prime Minister Gonzi clearly expressed his support for the agenda of financial reforms and for the initiatives concerning SMEs. During his visit, Michel Barnier was questioned by the Parliament, where he took note of the Maltese representatives' reservations on taxing financial transactions. The Commissioner also met officials responsible for the implementation of single market rules and representatives of socio-economic sectors. Several questions were raised during these meetings, particularly with regard to e-procurement and stability in the euro area.

Consultations » « TOP
08.12.2011 - 10.02.2012 Financial Services Consultation on the application of Directive 2007/44 EC as regards acquisitions and increase of holdings in the financial sector
News from the Parliament » « TOP
Strasbourg, 15 December, EP President Buzek says farewell

In his final speech as European Parliament President in Strasbourg Thursday, Jerzy Buzek called on the Union to fight to overcome the crisis, because "to remain strong requires an everyday investment in our common Europe. Europe was built on dreams and we have no right to throw those dreams away".

Jerzy Buzek mentioned the recent economic governance "six-pack" of budgetary surveillance measures as an example of policies passed under his presidency. He said: "On your behalf, I have often stressed the need to complete the internal market and to boost growth and competitiveness. Parliament called for more investment and for greater support for research, development, and green technologies, including the creation of a genuine European Energy Community".

He expressed his wish for "a new wave of political integration...a new wave of economic integration...a real economic and fiscal union" in a genuine spirit of cooperation, a true New Deal for Europe, in which "those who think of profit must also think of values. Those who gain wealth must be responsible. Those who are concerned about their prosperity must be concerned about equality, and those who believe in competition must come to believe in justice".

Jerzy Buzek finished his farewell speech by saying: "As the President of the European Parliament I served you and Europe's citizens. The European Union is incredible value, one worth working for and living in. But it is a value that can be created and used only if we are united," he said. "It is this very Europe that I will always serve with energy and determination."

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See also:
Website: IMCO (Internal Market Committee)
Website ECON (Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee)

Latest publications » Question of the Month »
Single Market News
Issue 62


Do you think a European professional card will increase the mobility of professionals across Europe?

YES NO


Results from the last month:
Do you think the crisis in the euro zone will boost social entrepreneurship?
YES - 44.8%
NO - 55.2%

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