This is a fascinating period in the development of the EU and the Internal Market in particular. The mandate of the current Commission is coming to an end which for the Internal Market portfolio means saying farewell to Frits Bolkestein. Commissioner Bolkestein has battled very hard and very effectively during his five year tenure to push the Internal Market Strategy. In a thought-provoking article he gives us his views on what we have achieved, what more can be expected and, crucially, how we can achieve it.
The Lisbon Strategy is on everyoneís lips at the moment and we are awaiting the mid-term progress report being drawn up by former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok. In this issue of Single Market News we have invited the current Dutch Presidency to give us their insight on the crucial issue of EU competitiveness and we are delighted to welcome the current chairman of the Competitiveness Council and Dutch Economics Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst who gives us his views on where our priorities should lie.
Many commentators point to the importance of the Internal Market in achieving the Lisbon objectives and in our Special Feature we take a look at the state of play, what our Internal Market programme has achieved and what more is come. Indeed a lot has been done already; major pieces of legislation are in the pipeline, but there are blockages in getting the pieces of the competitiveness jigsaw put into effect at the national level. Success here could be the key to kickstarting once again the economic engine of Europe - the Internal Market.
Corporate governance is an ongoing concern for the Commission and in recent weeks we have put forward Recommendations on the disclosure of boardroom pay and on the independence of non-executive directors, as well as launching a consultation on improving the rights of cross-border shareholders. The introduction from January 2005 of International Accounting Standards will make company accounts throughout the EU more reliable and easier to compare. Meanwhile new measures are being proposed to counter financial crime and to prevent payment fraud.
I am sure that we in the Internal Market Directorate-general will be as busy over the next five years as we have been during Mr Bolkesteinís mandate. Thatís the way we like it and we are looking forward immensely to the next few years.
by Alexander Schaub
Internal Market DG