Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "EU rules protect and empower 500 million people in the Single Market. They can live, work and do business in any EU country. All of this is only possible when the rules are respected. Today's proposals will help develop a culture of compliance. They will also help people and companies to have full access to online information and procedures both in their home country and abroad."
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: "Today we are delivering concrete tools to make the Single Market work better for citizens and businesses, so they can make full use of its opportunities. The Single Digital Gateway is also a strong incentive to modernise public administrations by developing ambitious and user-focused e-government strategies. And the new information tool Single Market Information Tool will further contribute to the Commission's enforcement work, so that citizens' Single Market rights are duly respected and EU businesses face fewer barriers when scaling up and entering new markets."
The 3 concrete initiatives adopted by the Commission today are:
1. A Single Digital Gateway:
In the future, people and companies will have easier access, through a single digital entry point, to high quality information, online administrative procedures and assistance services. Any procedure currently available online for domestic users will be accessible to users from other Member States and in 1 additional EU language. 13 key administrative procedures will have to be made available online, including requests for a birth certificate, to register a car, start a business or register for social security benefits. According to the 'once-only' principle, important data already collected by national authorities will only need to be submitted once and should then be made available to be reused in the most important cross-border procedures at the request of the user.
The Single Digital Gateway responds to users' needs in a digital world. It could help companies save more than €11 billion per year, and EU citizens up to 855,000 hours of their time annually. The initiative will benefit those moving to or doing business in another EU country, but also the many people and companies who decide to stay in their home country. It also incentivises Member States to adopt e-government strategies to offer modern and efficient public service.
2. A Single Market Information Tool (SMIT):
Single Market rights, for people as well as companies, can only be fully exercised if the commonly agreed rules are fit for purpose and correctly applied throughout Europe. To ensure this, timely access to comprehensive, reliable, and accurate market information is crucial. The Commission can already request information directly from companies in the field of competition policy. The Single Market Information Tool will allow the Commission, in targeted cases, to source defined and readily available data (such as, for example, cost structure, pricing policy or product volumes sold) in cases of serious difficulties with the application of EU Single Market legislation.
This could prove valuable, for example, to collect information on suspected geo-blocking practices, to corroborate information on public tenders, or to obtain data on the pricing and underlying costs of cross-border parcel delivery. Such requests would be a measure of last resort and the information would be handled subject to strict confidentiality requirements.
3. A SOLVIT Action Plan:
The Commission will build on the success of SOLVIT, a free of charge service which provides rapid and pragmatic solutions to people and companies all over Europe when they experience difficulties with public administrations while moving or doing business cross-border in the EU. The Action Plan aims to increase the use of SOLVIT by making sure that more citizens and businesses can easily access it and by improving data collection so that evidence from SOLVIT cases can be used to improve the functioning of the Single Market.
In 2015, the Commission presented its Single Market Strategy – a roadmap to deliver on President Juncker's political commitment to unleash the full potential of the Single Market and make it the launchpad for European companies to thrive in the global economy. The Commission has already put forward proposals on e-commerce, guidance on the collaborative economy, steps to modernise the EU's standardisation policy, a Start-up and Scale-up Initiative, and measures to give a fresh boost to the services sector.