European Commission study shows better implementation of Single Market rules needed on the ground

The European Commission has published the single market scorecard, which shows that despite improvements in certain areas better implementation of Single Market rules is needed on the ground. Such improvements would help EU businesses and citizens fully benefit from their freedoms and rights, to facilitate green and digital transitions.

Thanks to the Single Market, the EU is limiting the effects of shortages by driving innovation and diversifying supply chains across Europe. A well-functioning Single Market, where innovation can flourish, is the best ally for a resilient European economy.

In agreement with Member States, the scope of the Single Market Scoreboard 2021 has been extended to three new policy areas and indicators.

The scorecard provides a detailed overview of how EU Single Market rules were applied in the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2020. It evaluates how Member States have performed as regards implementation and enforcement of EU law, integration and market openness, governance tools as well as specific policy areas. The main findings are presented in the form of a ‘traffic light' chart, by attributing red (below average), yellow (average) and green (above average) cards per tool or area, while the arrows in the table below represent the improvements from one year to the other.

Compared to 2019, this year's Scoreboard notes a steady situation in most Member States, and observes a very slight improvement in overall performance of the monitored areas More detailed data per country and areas are provided in the online tool.

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Key findings of the 2021 Single Market Scoreboard.

When comparing this scoreboard covering 2020 with previous editions, one must take into account the specific impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain economic sectors.

  • Single Market rules continue to need better implementation and enforcement by Member States: the average percentage of all Single Market directives for which the transposition period has expired that have not been transposed yet into national law has increased to 1%. In addition, the ratio of directives that have not been correctly transposed has never been as high as in 2020, namely at 1.4%. The number of Single Market-related infringements has further risen to 837 pending cases (+5% compared to 2019), one of its highest levels in the past 10 years. 2020 also confirmed the return to a more frequent use of the EU Pilot dialogue, as more cases were opened than in 2019.
  • Steady increase of information, advice and problem-solving services helped businesses and citizens benefit from the Single Market: in 2020, SOLVIT, an informal problem-solving tool, handled more than 2.600 cases of which 80% were solved. The overall performance of countries in using the Internal Market Information System (IMI) has noticeably increased compared to the previous year. The Your Europe portal attracted nearly 33 million visits. Your Europe Advice handled more than 33,000 questions from European citizens and businesses.
  • National authorities need to take measures to guarantee the required administrative capacity for the application of the Single Market acquis: this is particularly the case for SOLVIT Centres' staffing where the lack of resources in a number of SOLVIT centres resulted in delays in case handling.
  • Public procurement performance continues to be uneven across the Single Market: too many calls for tender attract only one bid, and the lowest price remains the sole award criterion in a majority of calls. Improvement is needed to unleash the collective power of the public sector in building a sustainable and resilient EU economy.

For the first time ever, this year's edition of the scoreboard includes sections on the SMEs business environment, greening of industry, and market surveillance:

  • In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis led to a decrease of 1.3% of EU SMEs, their added value falling by 7.6% and their employment rate by 1.7%. While in 2021 there are already signs of a recovery of SME value added and employment, it is of utmost importance that Member States deploy all means to create an SME-friendly business environment.
  • On greening of industry. The EU economy is still mainly using primary raw materials, but some improvements were registered. Thanks to efforts in applying Best Available Techniques, air emissions intensity of the manufacturing sector has improved. Eco-innovation has shown a steady improvement in the EU. Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) has much increased with 3.838 organisations and 12.751 sites in 2020.
  • Thanks to the Information and Communication System for Market Surveillance, 9604 non-complying products were detected. This tool also helped Member States to coordinate their actions more efficiently.

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European Commission press service, Brussels.

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