On 28 April, the Commission welcomed the adoption of the first Single Market Programme. With €4.2 billion over the period of 2021-2027, the Programme provides an integrated package to support financial services. The new programme will strengthen the governance of the EU’s internal market and in particular, SMEs’ competitiveness and it will establish the framework for financing European statistics.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need for a well-functioning, resilient EU economy and the Single Market Programme is a modern, simple and flexible programme, which consolidates a large range of activities that were previously financed separately, into one coherent programme. It will ensure continuity in the efficient delivery of the Single Market on the ground, while providing better value for money for EU citizens, and allowing a focus on priorities essential for the economic recovery.
The Tools of the Single Market Programme
It will support:
- Consumer protection and empowerment, guaranteeing the enforcement of consumer rights, ensure a high level of consumer protection and assist consumers when they encounter problems.
- Competitiveness of businesses, in particular SMEs, while building on the success of the current programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME), the Commission is proposing to strengthen the support given to small business to scale up and expand across borders;
- A high level of human, animal and plant, supporting the safe production of food and the improvement of animal welfare in the EU. It will also promote market access for EU food producers, and significantly support the agri-food industry as a leading sector of the EU economy;
- Effective enforcement and first class standards, strengthening cooperation between Member States and the Commission to ensure that EU rules are properly implemented and enforced.
- Fair competition in the digital age, further enhancing its IT tools and expertise that it uses to effectively enforce competition rules in the digital as well as to strengthen cooperation between the Commission and Member State authorities and courts.
- High quality European statistics, providing funding to national statistics institutes for the production and dissemination of European statistics, which are indispensable for decision-making in all policy areas.
Moreover, the Programme will support a better enforcement of Union law and promote the competitiveness of SMEs, including through the Enterprise Europe Network and Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs.
The Impact of the Single Market Programme
Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, said: “A well-functioning Single Market has a significant and positive impact on jobs, growth and health; it offers more choice and lower prices for consumers. In addition, it allows businesses to exchange products and services. The new Single Market Programme regulation will make the Single Market more effective and will contribute to a sustainable recovery and successful green and digital transitions.”
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “The Single Market is the beating heart of the EU. In the 25 years of its existence, it has brought enormous benefits to EU citizens and businesses. For the Single Market to stay fit for purpose, we need to look after it properly. Today we are proposing a new programme to further increase the positive impact on Europeans”.
The Single Market Programme regulation will apply retroactively from 1 January 2021. It is a major contributor to growth, competitiveness and employment helping to create jobs and bringing consumers greater choice at lower prices. While it continues to be an engine for building a stronger, more balanced and fairer economy, it continuously needs to adapt to a rapidly changing environment characterised by digital revolution and globalisation.