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No 18 (October 99/Octobre 99/Oktober 99)
This autumn brings with it exciting new prospects for the EU's Internal Market, with the arrival of our new Commissioner Frits Bolkestein in mid-September and the launching of consultations on a new Internal Market Strategy for the next five years.
Mr Bolkestein is the member of the new European Commission team responsible for the Internal Market, together with Taxation and the Customs Union. His distinguished career in both industry and Dutch national politics will stand him in very good stead in his new role as Internal Market Commissioner. As he makes clear in the interview he gave to Single Market News (see the Special Feature in the issue), by becoming a Commissioner, he has fulfilled a long-standing ambition. Mr Bolkestein is determined to develop the Internal Market so that it delivers its full potential in terms of improving people's standardof living, boosting the competitiveness of EU industry and stimulating structural reform and modernisation of product and capital markets.
Within three weeks of his arrival, Mr Bolkestein obtained the endorsement of his fellow Commissioners for the launching of consultations on an ambitious new Internal Market Strategy (see page 2). This proposed Strategy outlines where the Internal Market should be aiming to go over the next five years within the Commission's overall objectives. In particular, the Commission has proposed four strategic objectives, namely improving the quality of life of citizens, enhancing the efficiency of the EU's product and capital markets, improving the business environment and exploiting the achievements of the Internal Market in a changing world.
In the light of consultations with the European Parliament, the EU's Council of Ministers and other interested parties, which will include a hearing on 29 October in Brussels and conclude on 7 November, the Commission will finalise the strategic objectives and present a list of specific short-term actions to meet these objectives with a view to reaching agreement on the overall strategy at the Helsinki European Council in December 1999.
The advantages of setting clearly-defined priority actions to be achieved within an agreed time-frame, combined with rigorously and publicly monitoring progress towards meeting the established priorities, have been proven by the achievements of the Single Market Action Plan.
The Commission has proposed that these short-term target actions should be updated annually, taking into account the actual functioning of product and capital markets and feedback received from citizens and business on their experiences with the Internal Market.
Although the time-scale for consultations is limited, the Commission considered that interested parties would welcome the opportunity to contribute to the definition of the new strategy rather than simply being presented with a 'fait accompli' by the Commission. In fact, it should be possible to take on board a wide range of points of view thanks to modern means of communication and consultation via the Internet and e-mail, together with a very cooperative attitude on the part of the European Parliament and the Member States. I would very strongly encourage all readers of Single Market News to contribute to the consultation process.
Finally, I would like to mention the restructuring of the Commission's services introduced on the initiative of the Commission's new President, Romano Prodi. In our case, the name of the Directorate General has changed to "Internal Market DG" instead of DG XV. Our responsibilities have not changed to any great extent, but we have taken over responsibility for postal services from the Telecommunications DG while responsibility for free movement of people, EU citizenship, judicial cooperation and access to justice has been transferred to the new Justice and Home Affairs DG.