In their report into the European Commission’s review of the Single Market the Committee warn that the Single Market, often seen as one of the great achievements of the EU, is failing in many areas as countries have not adequately introduced liberalisation of trade and economic competition. The Committee argue that the failure to implement properly the Single Market has particularly affected small and medium sized businesses.
The Committee do not feel the current failures of Single Market should, in general, be tackled by increased European legislation. The Committee highlight a growing desire for a ‘regulatory pause’ among business and recommend instead fuller implementation of current Single Market regulations and greater help in this process from the Commission.
The Committee assert the importance of strong regulatory authorities, operating independently of government, to ensure consumer interests and the openness of domestic markets are maintained. This is of particular importance with new member states and other EU members where government has a large stake in domestic industry and a potential motive to protect those industries.
The Committee looked in detail at the markets for energy, telecoms and financial services and raise concerns about the remaining market barriers in these markets.
The Committee point out that for businesses and citizens to benefit fully from a single energy market it is crucial for it to be competitive and open.
In order to achieve this the Committee recommend that Member States work to separate the production of energy from its distribution. This unbundling of energy products would mean that organisations could no longer encompass both network and supply businesses within the energy market. This would prevent network operators from discriminating against third party providers delivering energy to consumers.
The Committee call for strong and independent regulatory regimes throughout the Member States and for increased co-operation between these National Regulatory Authorities.
The Committee contrast the open and dynamic way the Single Market operates in relation to the new technologies of telecoms compared to the more static market for traditional fixed line telephony.
The Committee argue that the relative success of the Single Market in telecoms indicates that there is no need for a European telecoms regulator as proposed by the European Commission. They state that deficiencies in the more traditional telecoms market would be best tackled by a more thorough enforcement of current regulations rather than any new legislation or regulatory bodies.
The progress to a Single Market in retail financial services has been disappointing. The Committee point out that a functioning Single Market in Financial Services is a prerequisite for effective Single Market generally as it should ensure the most efficient allocation of capital across the European economy. The Committee call for the abolition of barriers preventing increased cross border activities by retail financial services providers.
Commenting Lord Freeman, Chairman of the Lords EU Committee on the Internal Market, said:
“The Single Market is often heralded as a European success story however we have real concerns that it is being undermined by continuing economic nationalism and failure to implement fully European Single Market legislation.
“There is little appetite for increased EU legislation. What is needed now is for Member States to do more to ensure they have a robust and independent regulatory regime that promotes the Single Market and does not act to protect ‘national champions‘.”