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Business environment

The rules governing the four freedoms of movement – for goods, services, people and capital – are not, by themselves, sufficient to achieve the objectives of the Single Market. These objectives can be fully achieved only if national and European policies create a favourable climate for business to grow across borders. Firms need to be confident that they can compete on a level playing field and that appropriate legal structures exist to allow all businesses, whatever their size, to operate effectively across the EU.

The European Commission is committed to improving the regulatory environment within which our businesses operate and in so doing help them compete successfully in global markets.

Harmonisation of the rules relating to company law and corporate governance, as well as to accounting and auditing, is a key element of this policy. This harmonisation aims at reducing red tape by helping companies to operate throughout the EU on the basis of a single set of rules and a unified management and reporting system. This system, in its turn, aims to increase transparency and confidence in corporate governance, enhancing the protection of investors, employees and the public against corporate cheating, fraud and mismanagement.

Likewise, EU law on public procurement aims to increase competition and transparency in a key sector of the European economy. Modernising and opening up procurement markets across borders mean more opportunities for businesses and better value and higher quality services for the taxpayer.

Other areas where the Commission is committed to improving the regulatory environment for business and to removing obstacles to cross-border trade include contract law and taxation. In this last field the action of the Commission is directed at removing obstacles faced by companies who wish to do business within the Single Market and have to deal with several tax administrations. If you wish more information on this issue, you might be interested in visiting the Commission website on taxation and customs union, in particular the section dealing with company tax.

The Commission also wants to create a favourable environment in Europe for the development of social entrepreneurship and of the social economy at large.