Tag Archives: Competitiveness

The CAP towards 2020

The CAP towards 2020

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The CAP towards 2020


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > General framework

The CAP towards 2020

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 18 November 2010 – The CAP towards 2020: Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future [COM(2010) 672 – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Communication identifies the challenges facing agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the coming years. These challenges have been identified based on past experience, the current economic situation and an extensive public debate organised in 2010.

Through this Communication, the Commission is launching themes for consideration, relating to the future of the CAP. It proposes to adapt the current CAP objectives to the new challenges which have been identified. In particular, the emphasis should be on strong, quality agricultural production, on protecting natural resources and on maintaining the agricultural sector in all EU territories.

Lastly, the Commission explains which instruments would enable the fixed objectives to be met. These instruments should enable the CAP to be greener, fairer, more efficient and more effective.


Food security

Global demand will continue to increase in the coming decades. The EU must be in a position to respond. It is essential that the EU maintains and increases its production capacity.

European citizens want high quality and a wide choice of food products, reflecting high safety, quality and animal welfare standards. A strong agricultural sector is vital for the highly competitive food industry to remain an important part of the EU economy and trade (the EU is the leading world exporter of mostly processed and high value added agricultural products).

Natural resources

Agriculture can put pressure on the environment (water pollution, soil depletion, water shortages and loss of wildlife habitats), but it can also have positive effects (climate stability, biodiversity, landscapes and resilience to flooding).

The EU shall endeavour to limit the negative effects of agriculture and to encourage its positive contributions. The future CAP shall promote energy efficiency, carbon sequestration, biomass and renewable energy production and, more generally, innovation.

Balanced territorial development

Agriculture remains an essential driver of the rural economy in the majority of EU countries. It is necessary to maintain a competitive and dynamic agricultural sector which attracts young farmers in order to preserve the vitality and potential of rural Europe.


Direct payments

In order to achieve the objectives stated above, the Commission plans to adapt the direct payments system to ensure that payments are better distributed and targeted.

It is proposed that future direct payments should support farmers’ basic income through the granting of a basic decoupled direct payment, with an upper ceiling, targeting of ‘active farmers’, a simple support system for small farmers and the consideration of areas with specific natural constraints.

The Commission proposes to improve the grant criteria relating to the environment through a mandatory ‘greening’ component of direct payments targeted at agricultural practices which address climate change and environmental objectives (permanent pasture, green cover, crop rotation, ecological set-aside, etc.).

Market measures

The Commission specifies that the CAP should keep the overall market orientation of agriculture while also maintaining the management tools which have demonstrated the important role they play in times of crisis or disruption. In the coming years, certain agricultural markets must evolve, in particular the regime currently in place in the sugar sector which is due to expire in 2014/2015.

The Commission believes that more general measures must be taken in order to improve the functioning of the food supply chain, which should be more transparent and within which bargaining power should be more balanced.

Rural development policy

Lastly, the Commission highlights the importance of the rural development policy which the EU carries out through the CAP. It proposes to strengthen the environmental element and to improve coordination of this policy with other European policies.

The Commission proposes to focus on the competitiveness of agriculture by encouraging innovation, promoting good management of natural resources and supporting balanced territorial development balance by encouraging local initiatives.

As well as enhancing the promotion and quality optimisation tools, the Commission believes that a risk management toolkit should be included to deal more effectively with income uncertainties and market volatility.

Media Mundus audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries 2011-2013

Media Mundus audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries 2011-2013

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Media Mundus audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries 2011-2013


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Media Mundus audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries 2011-2013

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 1041/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing an audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries (MEDIA Mundus).


This Decision aims at establishing the programme MEDIA Mundus for the funding of projects for international cooperation with professionals from third countries in the audiovisual sector during the period 2011-2013.


The programme is intended for professionals worldwide. However, the project coordinator must be resident in one of the following countries:

  • Member States;
  • EFTA States that are members of the EEA;
  • countries which declare a willingness to be members of the programme and pay a contribution calculated on the same basis as their contribution to the MEDIA 2007 programme.

What are the conditions for participation in the programme?

Projects proposed must fulfil the following conditions:

  • be carried out jointly by European and third-country professionals;
  • have a minimum of three partners with a view to creating an international network;
  • be coordinated by a European professional and include at least one partner from a third country.

What are the objectives of the programme?

The programme aims to increase the diversity and competitiveness of the European audiovisual industry and to promote Europe’s role in culture.

Information exchange, training and market intelligence

Under the programme, European and third-country professionals meet in order to enhance their understanding of their respective audiovisual markets, particularly in terms of operating conditions, legal frameworks, financing systems and possibilities for cooperation.

It involves establishing professional training on:

  • the conditions of production, co-production, distribution and the exhibition and dissemination of audiovisual works internationally;
  • the inclusion of new technologies throughout the value chain (production, post-production, distribution, marketing and archiving).

Competitiveness and distribution

The introduction of the programme should facilitate the search for foreign partners for European audiovisual works, whilst supporting the organisation of co-production markets.

Moreover, the programme should promote international sales of audiovisual works.


At this level, the programme should:

  • improve the programming and exhibition conditions of audiovisual works in European and third-country cinemas;
  • improve broadcasting and distribution conditions for third countries’ audiovisual works on European distribution channels and European works on international distribution channels;
  • facilitate the organisation of events and initiatives, in particular aimed at young audiences.

What is the programme budget?

The financial allocation for implementing the programme throughout the 2011-2013 period is EUR 15 million (of which 13.5 million is dedicated to supporting projects).


Prompted by the effects of the digital revolution on the conditions of production and dissemination of works, the audiovisual sector has changed significantly over the last 20 years, in particular from a technical standpoint. Furthermore, its international role is increasing with regard to the protection of cultural diversity. In this context, the public consultation on MEDIA Mundus demonstrated a willingness among European professionals and their third-country counterparts to cooperate so as to better promote the circulation of audiovisual works and film literacy.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision No 1041/2009/EC


OJ L 288 of 4.11.2009

Related Acts

Council Decision 2010/478/EU of 26 July 2010 concerning the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation in the audiovisual field, establishing the terms and conditions for the participation of the Swiss Confederation in the Community programme MEDIA 2007, and a Final Act [OJ L 234, 4.9.2010].

Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base

Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.


Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base


Proposal for a Council Directive of 16 March 2011 on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB).


The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) is a single set of rules that companies operating within the European Union (EU) could use to calculate their taxable profits. This would mean that a company would only have to comply with one EU system for computing its taxable income instead of dealing with up to 27 different sets of rules. The CCCTB would not affect the discretion of EU countries to set their own national rate of corporate taxation. It is not designed to harmonise tax rates, but instead would ensure consistency between national tax systems in the EU.

The CCCTB would be available for businesses of all sizes established under the laws of an EU country, so long as the company takes one of the forms listed in Annex I to this proposal or the company is subject to one of the corporate taxes listed in Annex II or to a similar tax subsequently introduced. The directive would also apply to certain companies established under the laws of a non-EU country.

A company which fulfils the above requirements and is a tax resident in an EU country may opt for the system. The company would be subject to corporate tax under the system on all income derived from any source, both inside and outside its EU country of residence. A company which fulfils the above requirements but is not a tax resident in an EU country may also opt for the system but in respect of a permanent establishment maintained by it in an EU country. The company would be subject to corporate tax under the system on all income from an activity carried on through the permanent establishment in an EU country. A company that qualifies and opts for the CCCTB would no longer be subject to the national corporate tax arrangements for all matters regulated by the common rules.

The tax base would be determined for each tax year and shall be calculated as revenues less exempt revenues, deductible expenses and other deductible items. All revenues should be taxable unless explicitly exempted. Revenues which would be exempted from corporate tax include:

  • subsidies directly linked to the acquisition, construction or improvement of fixed assets;
  • proceeds from the disposal of pooled assets, including the market value of non-monetary gifts;
  • received profit distributions;
  • proceeds from a disposal of shares;
  • income of a permanent establishment in a third country.

Subject to certain conditions, fixed assets should be depreciable for tax purposes. Long-life assets should be depreciated individually, while others should be placed in a pool. Assets not subject to depreciation include:

  • fixed tangible assets not subject to wear and tear and obsolescence such as land, fine art, antiques, or jewellery;
  • financial assets.

Losses incurred in one tax year may be deducted in subsequent years. A reduction of the tax base on account of losses from previous tax years shall not result in a negative amount.

For a subsidiary to be eligible for consolidation (group membership for companies), the parent company must have:

  • the right to exercise over 50 % of the voting rights;
  • the ownership of over 75 % of the company’s capital or over 75 % of the rights giving entitlement to profit.

The CCCTB proposal is based on the ‘all-in all-out’ approach. Companies that fulfil the requirements for forming a group have to consolidate, which implies that they may not just opt to have their individual tax results computed under the common rules.

A tax resident shall form a group with:

  • all its permanent establishments located in other EU countries;
  • all permanent establishments, located in an EU country, of its qualifying subsidiaries which are resident in a non-EU country;
  • all its qualifying subsidiaries which are resident in one or more EU countries;
  • other resident taxpayers which are qualifying subsidiaries of the same company which is resident in a non-EU country and fulfils the necessary conditions.

The consolidated tax base shall be shared between the group members in each tax year on the basis of a formula for apportionment. This formula gives equal weight to the factors of sales, labour and assets.

The proposal also details anti-abuse rules. Artificial transactions undertaken for the sole purpose of avoiding taxation shall not be taken into account in the calculation of the tax base. This does not, however, apply to genuine commercial activities where the taxpayer may choose between two or more possible transactions which have the same commercial result but which produce different taxable amounts.

The CCCTB administrative framework provides for a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach which would allow groups with a taxable presence in more than one EU country to deal primarily with a single tax authority across the EU. A consolidated tax return will be filed with that authority.

References And Procedure

Proposal Official Journal Procedure

COM (2011) 121 final

Consultation CNS(2011)0058

A call for action to strengthen the European-based pharmaceutical industry for the benefit of the patient

A call for action to strengthen the European-based pharmaceutical industry for the benefit of the patient

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A call for action to strengthen the European-based pharmaceutical industry for the benefit of the patient


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Pharmaceutical and cosmetic products

A call for action to strengthen the European-based pharmaceutical industry for the benefit of the patient

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 1 July 2003 on strengthening the European pharmaceutical industry for the benefit of the patient. [COM(2003) 383 final – Not published in the Official Journal].



The “G10 Medicines Group” was set up in 2001 on the initiative of the Members of the European Commission responsible for the “Enterprise” and “Health and Consumer Protection” Directorates-General. Alongside the two Commission representatives, it is made up of ten experts recruited from the industry, national Ministries of Health, social security organisations and patients groups.

This focus group was asked to recommend ways of improving the performance of the pharmaceutical industry in terms of its competitiveness and its contribution to social and public health objectives.

In accordance with the objectives it was set, the G10 group submitted its final report to the Commission in May 2002.

This contains a set of 14 recommendations prompted by two considerations:

  • the pharmaceutical industry in Europe generates wealth and high quality employment whilst playing a central role in the development of innovation. It can thus make a major contribution to achieving the goals set in Lisbon (a competitive knowledge-based economy, sustainable economic growth, and more and better jobs);
  • the pharmaceutical sector is lagging behind the USA in its ability to generate, organise and sustain innovative processes. In addition, European markets are not competitive enough and R&D expenditure is not growing fast enough.

Faced with this situation, the G10 group pointed out that tackling the growing weaknesses in the EU pharmaceutical industry is both a major industrial policy concern and a key public health objective (to improve the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines for the benefit of the public).

In this communication, the Commission states how it wishes to implement these recommendations and proposes certain actions the Member States could take on matters of national competence.


Improving patient information

With the steady growth in the demand and use of health information by patients, the information sources on offer (particularly on the Internet) are proliferating. Faced with this new situation, the Commission seeks to improve the quality and reliability of this information and provide a realistic and practical framework to give patients access to objective data.
Following on from its communication in 2002 entitled “Quality criteria for health-related websites”, the Commission proposes looking into the possible development of European seals of approval for such sites.
In addition, as part of the new Public Health Programme (2003-2008), a European Health Portal is being developed which should allow this information to be disseminated to the general public.

To increase public confidence in the information on medicines, the Commission will reflect on establishing a collaborative Public Private Partnership involving representatives from public authorities, industry, health funds, healthcare professionals and patient groups. This partnership could take the form of a small body that would be able to advise and monitor the quality of the information already available. It would also produce guidelines in specific areas to support the work of National and Community regulatory authorities.

Finally, the Commission would like to ensure that patients consume medicines appropriately. To do so, it wishes to ensure that the information contained in the patient information leaflet and on the label (dosage, contra-indications, special precautions for use) are as comprehensible and legible as possible.

Strengthening the role of patients in public-health decision-making

Also under the Public Health Programme (2003-2008), the Commission plans to make funds available to patient groups looking to create a Community umbrella organisation. The Commission would also like these groups to assume a more important role in the development of Community health and medicines policy.

The concept of the relative effectiveness of medicines

The Commission wants to set up a forum where Member States which use relative effectiveness measures to set prices and reimbursement levels for medicines could exchange information on their methods. This would make it possible to analyse whether, on the basis of the national approaches used to calculate the relative effectiveness of a medicine, i.e. the assessment of added therapeutic value (its clinical effectiveness compared to other treatments) and its cost effectiveness, an effective and faster common procedure could be introduced.

Improving pharmacovigilance systems

The Commission wishes to strengthen pharmacovigilance at Community level through the role of the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) which should help coordinate national action and centralise results. The ultimate aim is to enable Member States to benefit from more information about adverse reactions to the use by the general population of a medicine which has previously only been tested during clinical trials.


Updating the regulatory structure

In order to improve marketing authorisation procedures, the Commission points out that it would be desirable to shorten dossier assessment times and make greater use, under the centralised procedure, of telematics through EudraNET, the EuroPHARM Database and EudraVigilance.

Access to innovative medicines

The development of innovative medicines with a high added therapeutic value should be encouraged under the 6th Framework Programme for Research.

In addition the Commission, through its proposal for a review of pharmaceutical legislation, has demonstrated its desire to support research into innovative medicines and provide sufficient protection for the exclusivity of the data on such medicines.

The timing of reimbursement and pricing negotiations

The Member States should examine their existing pricing and reimbursement systems to ensure that they operate fully in accordance with the transparency requirements and within the timeframe set by Directive 89/105/EEC (pricing of medicinal products and health insurance systems).

The Commission and Member States should examine the scope for reducing the time taken between granting a marketing authorisation and pricing and reimbursement decisions to the absolute minimum.

For the time being, the prices of medicines are widely divergent amongst Member States as they are set by national administrative decisions. To facilitate market integration, the Commission suggests giving manufacturers the possibility of setting the prices of medicinal products, while negotiating with the Member States the possibility of introducing safeguard mechanisms to contain pharmaceutical expenditure by the State. Such a system is intended to open the way for the free fixing of prices of medicines on the market, as with any other product in the internal market.

Medicines not reimbursed by the State

The Commission asks the Member States to remove price controls on manufacturers that prevent full competition for medicines that are not reimbursed by the State and for those which are not to be sold to the public sector.

The competitive generic medicines market

Generic medicines can provide significant savings to patients and to national healthcare financing systems, which is why the Commission stresses the need to facilitate generic penetration in the different national markets.

In order to put this into effect, the Commission points out that generic producers should be given the opportunity to supply generic medicines to Member States where the reference product is not on their market.

This communication also points out that, as part of the reform of the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use, the Council’s common position suggests the possibility of introducing a marketing authorisation application for a generic and to grant this authorisation in the last two years of the data protection period of the reference product for all products except those falling within the mandatory scope of the centralised procedure. This will allow these products to come onto the market immediately after the end of the ten-year data protection period.

The competitive non-prescription market

To reduce the differences amongst Member States in products classified as non-prescription, the Commission suggests that there be greater consistency in classification decisions.

Moreover, since the reclassification of medicines from prescription to non-prescription status brings benefits to patients, healthcare professionals, governments, healthcare systems and industry alike, the Commission suggests the introduction of a period of data exclusivity where significant clinical or pre-clinical data have been submitted with the application.

Finally, the Commission advocates that the Member States allow the use of the same trademark after reclassification where there is no risk to public health, as this avoids financial costs which may dissuade producers from taking this step.


The fragmented nature of European research systems (lack of scientific collaboration among Member States and between the public and private sectors) is hampering R&D activity in the EU and the introduction of innovative processes.
The Commission suggests a very broad range of measures to remedy these problems:

  • taking forward the concept of European virtual institutes of health;
  • creating a genuine European research area as set out in the sixth framework programme for research (scientific cooperation and training to stem the loss of highly-skilled European scientists);
  • an increase in Community research spending to 3% of GDP in the EU by 2010 in line with the strategy agreed at the Barcelona European Council in March 2002;
  • the implementation of a life science and biotechnology action plan (skilled workforce, financial support, networking of biotechnology regions in Europe, developing the size of enterprises in the sector);
  • the creation of a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control which should become operational no later than 2005;
  • the development of proposals to encourage R&D on diseases which are currently neglected or where R&D is lacking.

The incentives for research which the Commission wishes to introduce also include:

  • the creation of a database on clinical trials and the drafting of detailed guidelines on the principles of good clinical practice as defined in directive 2001/20/EC;
  • the promotion of research into orphan medicines by taking measures on rare diseases;
  • finalisation of the proposal for a regulation on medicines for paediatric use which is expected in 2004;
  • the rapid implementation by all Member States of the Directive on Legal Protection of Biological Inventions and the adoption of the Community patent legislation.


The health status in the future Member States is generally lower than in the rest of the EU and they devote fewer resources to healthcare. Also, the levels of intellectual property protection differ, leading to divergences in price levels, which could cause an increase in parallel imports.

For a limited period after accession, some medicines on the market in the new Member States will not have the same level of intellectual property protection found in the existing Member States. The Accession Treaties were, therefore, amended to include a transitional period prior to the full application of the principle of free movement to prevent the parallel import of pharmaceutical products that lack equivalent intellectual property right protection.

In addition, under the pharmaceutical legislation review, there will be a statutory requirement for parallel importers to inform both the marketing authorisation holder and the competent authorities of their intention to proceed with a parallel import in a given Member State. However, the legal responsibility for enforcing intellectual property rights will remain with the patent holder.

The pharmaceutical legislation review will also allow generic supply of medicines in Member States where there is no reference product on the market, and help to alleviate problems of availability in the new Member States.

Alongside these different measures, the new Member States have been offered practical help to prepare for accession through the Pan European Regulatory Forum (PERF).


In its final report, the G10 Medicines Group recommends the development of a set of EU indicators to cover both industry competitiveness and public health objectives. Benchmarking is no solution to the problems of competitiveness in itself but it will, for the first time, establish a set of agreed EU performance indicators that will provide a comprehensive and objective basis for measuring the implementation of the recommendations and to exchange best practice.

The competitiveness indicators cover four broad areas: supply, demand and the regulatory framework, industry outputs, and macroeconomic factors. The Commission will publish annual tables of competitiveness indicators. This data will thus provide a basis for discussion in the Council, the European Parliament and at International Conferences.

Developing a set of indicators that can monitor the role of the pharmaceutical industry in preventing and treating disease is no easy task. While industry has clearly made a key contribution to public health in a number of areas, it is difficult to quantify in global terms and in terms of individual products or for specific diseases. The Commission is working on the development of a range of indicators in this field which should cover:

  • the availability of pharmaceutical products, compared to other health care inputs, for priority diseases;
  • the significance of available medicines, e.g. in terms of their effectiveness;
  • the identification of those diseases for which there are no effective medicines;
  • the prescription and rational use, at the medical professional and patient level;
  • patient quality issues such as the acceptability of medicines.


Benchmarking follow-up

The Commission undertakes to update and adapt these performance indicators annually and to submit them to the Council and the European Parliament at regular intervals. It also plans to set up a small secretariat to take forward the benchmarking exercise.

Maintaining the momentum of G10

The Commission would like Member States, on a voluntary basis, to communicate national measures that could have an impact on G10 Medicines-related issues.

The Commission invites the Council and the European Parliament, together with other stakeholders, to take forward the key actions highlighted in this Communication

The Commission will support the organisation of annual meetings to follow up this Communication and to verify progress on key actions.


Overseas countries and territories : towards a new partnership

Overseas countries and territories : towards a new partnership

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Overseas countries and territories : towards a new partnership


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > Overseas countries and territories (OCT)

Overseas countries and territories (OCTs): towards a new partnership

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 6 November 2009 – Elements for a new partnership between the EU and the overseas countries and territories (OCTs) [COM(2009) 623 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Relations between the European Union (EU) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) should evolve into a reciprocal partnership, founded on mutual interests. These relations are currently defined by the framework for association established by Decision 2001/822/EC.

This Communication presents a new approach aimed at supporting the sustainable development of OCTs by adapting the cooperation principles and priorities to the specificities of these countries and territories. In addition, if their level of development is generally higher than that of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, certain OCTs shall continue to benefit from European aid to fight against poverty.

Supporting sustainable development

The future partnership, based on Article 198 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, should prioritise three axes of cooperation:

  • the competitiveness of OCTs in key areas such as education and training, innovation, the small and medium-sized enterprises sector, and good political and economic governance;
  • reducing their vulnerability to economic shocks, environmental issues, energy dependency and natural disasters;
  • regional integration through increasing intra-regional economic exchanges, carrying out cooperation projects (specifically for cross-border environmental protection) and increasing cultural exchanges.

Cooperation should be tailored to the situation of each partner.

European financial and technical assistance shall be improved, specifically by coordinating financial instruments with those for the Outermost Regions, ACP states or other countries neighbouring the OCTs.

OCTs may participate in certain Community programmes (such as the 7th Research Framework Programme). The programmes must therefore be adapted to the new priorities.

Cooperation priorities

The Commission has identified a set of areas for cooperation which should enable the potential of OCTs to be developed. They involve:

  • establishing centres of excellence and expertise to manage the advantages and difficulties of each territory;
  • upgrading OCT legislation to EU rules and standards, specifically to encourage the trade of goods and services (for example by bringing customs procedures and sanitary and phytosanitary standards closer together) and compliance with the principles of transparency on tax;
  • developing environmental cooperation to support the transition of OCTs to a greener economy, and helping them adapt to climate change, biodiversity protection, the promotion of renewable energies and disaster risk reduction;
  • improving the OCTs’ accessibility by developing information and communication technologies and transport infrastructures;
  • increasing trade and economic cooperation in terms of international trade liberalisation, which entails reciprocal trade relationships and specific rules of origin.


The Communication follows the Green Paper on future relations between the EU and OCTs. The conclusions of the Green Paper support the revision of the existing framework for association.

European Union forest action plan

European Union forest action plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Union forest action plan


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Environment

European Union forest action plan

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 June 2006 on an EU Forest Action Plan [COM(2006) 302 final – not published in the Official Journal].


Forests are an important sphere for the European Union (EU): they cover 37.8 % of European territory and provide a living for 3.4 million people (forestry and forest-based industries). Moreover, the EU is the second-largest producer of industrial round timber after the United States and produces approximately 80 % of the world’s cork. In the context of climate change, forests also play an important role – not only as regards trapping carbon, but also through the production of biomass *, and their potential in terms of renewable forms of energy. Lastly, forests are socially and culturally important: attractive to city dwellers, they provide opportunities for recreational and healthy activities and represent a not inconsiderable cultural heritage.

The European Commission has therefore set four main objectives to be implemented in order to optimise the sustainable management and multifunctional role of the EU’s forests:

  • improving long-term competitiveness;
  • improving and protecting the environment;
  • contributing to a better quality of life;
  • fostering communication and coordination in order to increase consistency and cooperation at various levels.

These objectives translate into a series of 18 key actions, which the European Commission and the Member States will implement jointly. The action plan also provides for additional measures, which the Member States can implement depending on their specific characteristics and their priorities, in some cases with the aid of existing Community instruments.

Improving long-term competitiveness

The competitiveness of forestry is essential. The sector has great potential to develop new products and services of high quality in response to growing demand as a source of renewable raw material. The Commission proposes five key actions for this objective:

  • Key action 1: The Commission will carry out a study on the effects of globalisation on the competitiveness of EU forestry in order to identify the main factors influencing developments in the EU forest sector and to underpin discussions on further action to be taken to enhance the competitiveness and economic viability of the sector;
  • Key action 2: Encourage research and technological development to enhance the competitiveness of the forest sector (including through the 7th Research Framework Programme);
  • Key action 3: Exchange and assess experiences on the valuation and marketing of non-wood forest goods and services: the aim is to quantify the total value of forests and their functions, in order to introduce instruments to compensate for non-marketed goods and services;
  • Key action 4: Promote the use of forest biomass for energy generation;
  • Key action 5: Foster cooperation between forest owners and enhance education and training in forestry.

Improving and protecting the environment

The overall objective is to maintain and appropriately enhance biodiversity, carbon sequestration, integrity, health and resilience of forest ecosystems at various geographical scales. In this regard, the Commission proposes the following key actions:

  • Key action 6: Facilitate EU Member States’ compliance with the obligations on climate change mitigation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol and encourage adaptation to the effects of climate change;
  • Key action 7: Contribute towards achieving the revised Community biodiversity objectives for 2010 and beyond;
  • Key action 8: Work towards a European Forest Monitoring System, following completion of the Forest Focus monitoring scheme;
  • Key action 9: Enhance the protection of EU forests.

In addition, Member States may – with the support of the EAFRD and the instrument Life+ – promote measures in favour of forests (Natura 2000), agri-forestry systems, support restoration of forests damaged by natural disasters and fire, support studies on the causes of forest fires, awareness-raising campaigns.

Contributing to a better quality of life

The Commission considers it important to preserve and support the cultural and social dimension of forests. To do so, it has identified the following key actions:

  • Key action 10: Encourage environmental education and information;
  • Key action 11: Maintain and enhance the protective functions of forests;
  • Key action 12: Explore the potential of urban and peri-urban forests.

In addition, Member States may – with support from the ERDF – enhance investment and sustainable management of forests for better prevention of natural disasters.

Fostering coordination and communication

While forest policy is a matter for the Member States, many initiatives with an impact on forest management are carried out at European level. This therefore requires improved coherence and cross-sectoral cooperation in order to balance economic, environmental and socio-cultural objectives at different organisational and institutional levels.

  • Key action 13: Strengthen the role of the Standing Forestry Committee *;
  • Key action 14: Strengthen coordination between policy areas in forest-related matters;
  • Key action 15: Apply the open method of coordination to national forest programmes;
  • Key action 16: Strengthen the EU profile in international forest-related processes;
  • Key action 17: Encourage the use of wood and other forest products from sustainably managed forests;
  • Key action 18: Improve information exchange and communication. Inter alia, the European Commission will develop a website devoted to forest management at the Europa Internet site.

In addition, the Member States are encouraged to organise visibility events, such as a “Forest Week” or “Forest Day”, to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable forest management.

The Commission will carry out a mid-term evaluation of the action plan in 2009 and an overall evaluation in 2012.


In December 1998 the Council adopted a resolution on a forestry strategy for the European Union. The Commission then submitted a report on the implementation of this strategy over five years and proposed inter alia launching an EU action plan on sustainable forest management. In May 2005 the Council meeting on agriculture and fisheries asked the Commission to draw up that action plan.

Key terms of the act
  • Biomass: all the organic plant and animal products used for energy (or agronomic) purposes.
  • Standing Forestry Committee (SFC): set up in 1989, it represents the EU Member States’ forestry authorities. It has 27 members (designated by the governments of the Member States) and is chaired by the European Commission. Its role is threefold: consultation and management in respect of specific forestry measures, ad hoc consultation forum providing an expert opinion when forestry measures are being devised within the framework of various Community policies, a place for the exchange of information between the Member States and the Commission. The SFC will be the body for coordination between the Commission and the Member States to enable implementation of the action plan.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 10 March 2005 – Reporting on the implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy [COM(2005) 84 final – not published in the Official Journal].

White Paper on services of general interest

White Paper on services of general interest

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about White Paper on services of general interest


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for services

White Paper on services of general interest

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 12 May 2004 entitled “White Paper on services of general interest” [COM(2004) 374 final – Not yet published in the Official Journal].


This White Paper presents the Commission’s conclusions following a broad public consultation launched on the basis of the Green Paper. The consultation showed up significant differences in points of view and outlook. Nevertheless, a consensus seems to have emerged on the need to ensure the harmonious combination of market mechanisms and public service missions. The White Paper sets out the Commission’s approach in developing a positive role for the European Union in fostering the development of high-quality services of general interest and presents the main elements of a strategy aimed at ensuring that all citizens and enterprises in the Union have access to high-quality and affordable services.

In submitting this White Paper, the Commission does not intend to close the debate that has developed at European level. Its aim is to make a contribution to the ongoing discussion and take it further by defining the Union’s role and a framework that allows these services to function properly.


The White Paper stresses the importance of services of general interest as one of the pillars of the European model of society and the need to ensure the provision of high-quality and affordable services of general interest to all citizens and enterprises in the European Union. In the Union, services of general interest remain essential for ensuring social and territorial cohesion and for the competitiveness of the European economy.

While the provision of services of general interest can be organised in cooperation with the private sector or entrusted to private or public undertakings, the definition of public service obligations and missions remains a task for the public authorities at the relevant level. The relevant public authorities are also responsible for market regulation and for ensuring that operators accomplish the public service missions entrusted to them.

In this context, the White Paper states that responsibility for services of general interest is shared between the Union and its Member States. This shared responsibility is the concept underlying Article 16 of the EC Treaty, which confers responsibility upon the Community and the Member States to ensure, each within their respective powers, that their policies enable operators of services of general economic interest to fulfil their missions. The right of the Member States to assign specific public service obligations to economic operators and to ensure compliance is also implicitly recognised in Article 86(2) of the EC Treaty.

The EC Treaty gives the Community a range of resources to ensure that users have access to high-quality, affordable services of general interest in the European Union. The Commission takes the view that its powers are appropriate and sufficient for the maintenance and development of effective services throughout the Union. Nevertheless, it is primarily for the relevant national, regional and local authorities to define, organise, finance and monitor services of general interest.


The Commission’s approach is based on a number of principles that are reflected in the Community’s sectoral policies and can be clarified on the basis of the results of the debate on the Green Paper:

  • Enabling public authorities to operate close to citizens:
    The Commission respects the essential role of the Member States and of regional and local authorities in the area of services of general interest. The Community’s policies on services of general interest are based on various degrees of action and the use of various instruments, in line with the principle of subsidiarity.
  • Achieving public service objectives within competitive open markets:

    An open and competitive internal market, on the one hand, and the development of high-quality, accessible and affordable services of general interest, on the other, are compatible objectives.
  • Ensuring cohesion and universal access:

    The access of all citizens and enterprises to affordable, high-quality services of general interest throughout the territory of the Member States is essential for the promotion of social and territorial cohesion in the European Union, including the reduction of obstacles caused by the lack of accessibility of the outermost regions.
  • Maintaining a high level of quality, security and safety:

    The Commission wishes to guarantee, in addition to the supply of high-quality services of general interest, the physical safety of consumers and users, everyone involved in the production and delivery of these services and the general public, and, in particular, provide protection against possible threats such as terrorist attacks or environmental disasters.
  • Ensuring consumer and user rights:
    These include, in particular, access to services, in particular cross-border services, throughout the territory of the Union and for all groups of the population, affordability of services, including special schemes for persons on low incomes, physical safety, security and reliability, continuity, high quality, choice, transparency and access to information from providers and regulators.
  • Monitoring and evaluating performance:

    The Commission takes the view that systematic evaluation and monitoring is vital for maintaining and developing high-quality, accessible, affordable and efficient services of general interest in the European Union. The evaluation should be multidimensional and focus on all the legal, economic, social and environmental aspects. It should also take into account the features of the sector evaluated and situations specific to the various Member States and their regions.
  • Respecting the diversity of services and situations:

    The diversity of services must be maintained because of the different needs and preferences of users and consumers resulting from different economic, social, geographical or cultural situations. This is true in particular for social services, health care and broadcasting.
  • Increasing transparency:

    The principle of transparency is a key concept for the development and implementation of public policies regarding services of general interest. It ensures that public authorities can exercise their responsibilities and that democratic choices can be made and are respected. The principle should apply to all aspects of delivery and cover the definition of public service missions, the organisation, financing and regulation of services, as well as their production and evaluation, including complaint-handling mechanisms.
  • Providing legal certainty:
    The Commission is aware that the application of Community law to services of general interest could raise complex issues. It is therefore going to pursue an ongoing project to improve legal certainty associated with the application of Community law in the provision of services of general interest. It has already accomplished the modernisation of the existing public procurement rules and launched initiatives in the areas of state aid and public-private partnerships.


One of the main questions in the public discussion concerned the need for a framework directive on services of general interest. The views expressed on this subject in the public consultation were divided, a number of Member States and the European Parliament being sceptical on the issue.

It is therefore uncertain whether a framework directive would be the best route to follow at this stage and would bring sufficient added value. Consequently, the Commission concludes that it would be best not to present a proposal for the time being. Rather, it will pursue and develop its sectoral approach by proposing, where necessary and appropriate, sector-specific rules that allow account to be taken of the specific requirements and situations in each sector.

The Commission will re-examine the feasibility and necessity of a framework law on services of general interest when the Constitutional Treaty comes into force, in particular the new legal basis introduced by Article III-122 which states that: “Without prejudice to Articles III-55, III-56 and III-136, and given the place occupied by services of general economic interest as services to which all in the Union attribute value as well as their role in promoting social and territorial cohesion, the Union and the Member States, each within their respective powers and within the scope of application of the Constitution, shall take care that such services operate on the basis of principles and conditions, in particular economic and financial, which enable them to fulfil their missions. European laws shall define these principles and conditions.” In addition, the Commission will review the situation of services of general interest in the European Union and the need for any horizontal measures in 2005. It plans to present a report of its findings by the end of 2005.

On the basis of the results of the public consultation, the Commission also considers it necessary to further clarify and simplify the legal framework for the financing of public service obligations. It intends to adopt a package of measures to that effect by July 2005 at the latest. Most elements of this package have already been submitted as drafts for consultation.

Furthermore, the public debate highlighted the need for a clear and transparent framework for the selection of undertakings entrusted with a service of general interest. The Commission intends to examine the EU legislation ensuring the transparent award of service concessions. It has therefore launched a consultation on the procurement aspects of public-private partnerships.

The Green Paper also generated considerable interest among stakeholders in the area of social and health services, who expressed a need for greater predictability and clarity to ensure a smooth development of these services. The Commission takes the view that it is useful to develop a systematic approach in order to identify and recognise the specific characteristics of social and health services of general interest and to clarify the framework in which they operate and can be modernised. This approach will be set out in a Communication on social services of general interest, including health services, to be adopted in the course of 2005.

Evaluating the operation of the services, at both Community and national level, is essential to ensure the development of high-quality services of general interest that are accessible and affordable in an environment undergoing constant change. The Commission has undertaken to intensify and improve its evaluation activities in the field of services of general interest.

On an internal level, the sectoral regulations put in place at Community level concern the large network industries. In the Commission’s view, the public consultation on the Green Paper has confirmed this approach. It will take into account the results of this consultation in the examinations of the various sectors.

On an international level, the Commission is determined to ensure consistency between the Community’s internal rules and the obligations on itself and the Member States pursuant to international trade agreements. It also wishes to promote services of general interest in development co-operation.

Related Acts

European Parliament Resolution of 13 January 2004 on the Green Paper on services of general interest [A5-0484/2003].

Parliament welcomes the Commission Green Paper and calls on the Commission to present a follow-up by April 2004 at the latest. It takes the view that certain services of general interest should be excluded from the scope of the competition rules, including health, education and social housing, as well as services of general interest aiming to maintain or increase plurality of information and cultural diversity. Moreover, Parliament calls on the Commission to defend this position at WTO negotiations and negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services. It considers that it is neither possible nor relevant to draw up common definitions of services of general interest, or of the public-service obligations resulting from them, but that the European Union must lay down common principles, including the following: universality and equality of access, continuity, security and adaptability; quality, efficiency and affordability, transparency, protection of less well-off social groups, protection of users, consumers and the environment, and citizen participation, taking into account circumstances which are specific to each sector. It stresses the need to ensure that competition rules are compatible with public service obligations, and is opposed to liberalisation of the water supply. Parliament takes the view that water and waste services should not be subject to Community sectoral directives, but that the Union should keep its full responsibility for these sectors as regards quality and environment protection standards.

Commission Green Paper of 21 May 2003 on services of general interest [COM(2003) 270 final – Official Journal C 76 of 25.03.2004].

The Commission, in this Green Paper, undertakes to conduct a complete review of its policies on services of general interest. Its objective is to organise an open debate on the global role of the Union in the definition of the objectives of general interest pursued by these services and on how they are organised, funded and evaluated. The Green Paper also reaffirms the significant contribution of the internal market and competition rules to modernising and improving the quality and efficiency of many public services, to the benefit of Europe’s citizens and businesses. It deals with globalisation and liberalisation, raising the question of whether a general legislative framework should be established at Community level for services of general interest, and seeks to deal with these issues by asking questions about: the impact of any additional Community initiatives to implement the treaty, in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity; the principles likely to be incorporated in any framework legislation on services of general interest and the actual added value of legislation of that kind; the definition of good governance in the organisation, regulation, funding and evaluation of services of general interest; an examination of any new measure likely to be taken to increase legal certainty and facilitate consistent, harmonious coordination between the objective of safeguarding high-quality services of general interest and the rigorous application of the competition and internal market rules.

Media literacy in the digital environment

Media literacy in the digital environment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Media literacy in the digital environment


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Media literacy in the digital environment

Document or Iniciative

Commission Recommendation 2009/625/EC of 20 August 2009 on media literacy in the digital environment for a more competitive audiovisual and content industry and an inclusive knowledge society.


This Recommendation aims to increase media literacy in the digital environment in order to achieve a more competitive knowledge economy while contributing towards a more inclusive information society.


Media literacy is defined as the ability to access the media, and to understand and critically evaluate different aspects of the media and media content. Media literacy also includes the ability to communicate in a variety of contexts.


There are still many barriers to the development of media literacy at European level. Member States still lack a shared vision in this area. In addition, the lack of visibility of national, regional and local initiatives in this area makes it more difficult to foster European networks. Consequently, for the moment, there is no coordination between stakeholders.


Media literacy should enable European citizens to better understand and analyse the media messages and content they encounter and to acquire the skills which will enable them to play their role of citizen fully.

It may also contribute to safeguarding the pluralism and independence of the media. It permits the expression of diverse opinions from different social groups and promotes the development of the values of tolerance and dialogue.

Media literacy also plays an important role in enhancing awareness of the European audiovisual heritage and cultural identities. In fact, it helps to increase knowledge of and interest in recent European cultural works.

Faced with these challenges, the European Commission proposes encouraging research projects on media literacy in the framework of existing programmes.

Recommended action

Member States are invited to develop and implement co-regulatory initiatives leading to the adoption of codes of conduct relating to the European media.

It is important to promote and finance research, studies and projects covering the different aspects and dimensions of media literacy in the digital environment.

Member States are also encouraged to organise debates in conferences and public events with a view to the inclusion of media literacy in the education curriculum and as part of the provision of key competences for lifelong learning.

Member States should also implement national campaigns to raise public awareness of cultural heritage, as well as training to raise awareness of the risks involved in processing personal data through information and communication networks.

Moreover, the Media Industry is invited to suggest tools for improving the level of media literacy, such as:

  • information tools relating to digital content and search engines;
  • awareness-raising campaigns about techniques used for commercial communication purposes (product placement and online advertising);
  • information packs for young people on the processing of personal data;
  • information days on the creative economy and copyright.


The Commission Communication of December 2007 on ‘A European approach to media literacy in the digital environment’ emphasised the importance of media literacy in relation to commercial communication, audiovisual works and digital content. A better level of media literacy would contribute towards the objectives that the European Union set for itself in Lisbon and in the context of the i2010 initiative.

A single market for 21st century Europe

A single market for 21st century Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A single market for 21st century Europe


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Research and innovation > Research in support of other policies

A single market for 21st century Europe

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 20 November 2007 entitled: “A single market for 21st century Europe” [COM(2007) 724 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The single market is beneficial for consumers and businesses. It has supported job creation and stimulated growth, competitiveness and innovation. The single market has also been essential for the smooth functioning of the economic and monetary policies of the European Union (EU). However, it still has untapped potential.


The Commission proposes a single market for the 21st century which is strong, innovative and competitive. Building on its existing strong foundations, the single market must concentrate on key areas with potential added value in order to face up to new challenges.

Consumers and businesses

The single market needs to deliver better results and benefits to respond to the expectations and concerns of consumers and businesses. The guarantee of high standards has enabled consumer protection to be ensured in terms of choice and quality of goods, prices, rights, fighting unfair commercial practices and abuse of dominant positions, etc. Nevertheless, the single market can offer more in key sectors of the daily life of consumers, such as energy or telecommunications, and sectors which are fragmented or typified by a lack of effective competition.

The safety and quality of goods and services and market surveillance also need to be strengthened. Food safety, pharmaceuticals and retail financial services are areas in which consumers must be educated and empowered in order to derive full benefit from the single market. In this respect, consumer rights, and especially contractual rights, and redress should be re-examined to move towards a simple, comprehensive protective framework.

In addition, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not integrated in the single market in the same way as large enterprises. Their participation is impeded mainly by tax fragmentation and language, cultural and consumer barriers. The initiative of the Small Business Act, based on the principle of “think small first”, and improvement of the tax environment should provide an appropriate response to this problem.

Coping with globalisation

In a constantly changing international context, the single market presents many advantages in terms of innovation, competitiveness and choice, whilst respecting labour, health, safety and environmental standards. Through its nature, it has attracted foreign investments and firms.

The EU must continue this process to cope with globalisation, concentrating on the pillars identified in the Communication “Global Europe competing in the world (BG) (CS) (ET) (GA) (LV) (LT) (HU) (MT) (PL) (RO) (SK) (SL)”, i.e.:

  • the trade and competition policy instruments which guarantee a competitive space by responding to foreign subsidies and other unfair practices;
  • promotion of cooperation on multilateral and bilateral norms. The EU must take inspiration from international standards and its own standards must serve as a world reference, ensuring it a leading role, especially if it speaks with one voice;
  • ensuring that the benefits of market openness reach European citizens, especially in terms of choice and price, but also by following up on trade agreements.

Making knowledge and innovation the “fifth freedom”

The single market, which was originally based on primary products and manufactured goods, has to provide for the greater integration of services, which are assuming a growing role in a knowledge-based economy. In this way, it must tap the potential offered by the new technologies for the benefit of a “fifth freedom”, i.e. free movement of knowledge and innovation.

The Services Directive is the lynchpin of this process. Nevertheless, the removal of barriers and strengthening of competition must be continued to offer more choice at lower prices to consumers and to boost innovation. Initiatives have been taken along these lines, especially with regard to the network industries (energy, postal services, transport, telecommunications, etc.). Information and communication technologies (ICT) are also an asset for the development of interoperable services in the context of the “e-Internal Market” (electronic invoicing, online public procurement and electronic customs), without creating new “e-barriers”.

The mobility of workers, researchers and students must be guaranteed to promote knowledge-sharing. The 7th Framework Research and Development Programme (7th FRDP) and the plan to introduce a “researcher passport” form the foundations of mobility and the development of research networks within the European Research Area (ERA).

Social and environmental dimension

Market opening has social and environmental impacts. The Commission will improve its impact assessments to anticipate market changes more effectively.

The development of the single market goes hand in hand with the European social agenda. Economic and social cohesion, based on the Structural Funds, allows citizens and businesses to be empowered and the benefits of the market to be spread to all regions of the EU. In this respect, the “European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation” (EGTC) offers new possibilities for cross-border cooperation in areas such as health, environment and infrastructures.

Workers’ mobility receives further support under the Job Mobility Action Plan. However, this must respect the fundamental rights of workers, including equal opportunities. The European Works Council will be adapted along these lines.

The development of “eco-industry” (pharmaceuticals or car manufacturing) contributes to the environmental dimension of the single market. Further investments are still needed, especially to contribute to fighting climate change.


An enlarged, diversified EU depends more than ever on the single market working well. The EU must concentrate on the evidence and the impact of the markets, giving priority to where markets do not deliver and where there are maximum chances of improvement. Market monitoring will be stepped up to determine the reasons for market failures and their potential on the basis of competition sector inquiries, lead markets and joint technology initiatives. The consumer scoreboard, which will be integrated into the Single Market Scoreboard from 2009, will provide additional information on the performances of these markets from the point of view of consumers and economic and social requirements.

Simple, appropriate tools will allow the single market to be more targeted and better enforced, without ending up with more regulations. Recourse to existing instruments and procedures under the various policies must be rationalised to achieve an optimum result. This also applies to the tools for the evaluation and implementation of Community legislation. The Commission will reconsider ineffective or superseded Community interventions.

All levels of governance, authorities and stakeholders must be involved on the basis of greater decentralisation, fostering ownership and mutual trust in the context of new working relationships and approaches. The networks, which could be based on “single market centres”, are essential in this respect to ensure enforcement of Community legislation and cooperation, promoting exchanges of experience and good practices.

Communication and access to information form the basis for transparency and knowledge of the Community rules. Member States are responsible for this. Achievement of these objectives will be based on the “single market ambassadors” pilot project (prominent persons in business and trade), a “one-stop shop” for the various services available to citizens and businesses (Europe Direct, Your Europe, SOLVIT, Citizens’ Signpost Service, EURES, the new integrated business support network, etc.), as well as a Single Market Scoreboard adapted to allow better evaluation of performance.

Single Market Act: improving our work, business and exchanges with one another

Single Market Act: improving our work, business and exchanges with one another

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Single Market Act: improving our work, business and exchanges with one another


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Internal market: general framework

Single Market Act: improving our work, business and exchanges with one another

th anniversary of the introduction of the single market. During the past two decades, the creation of the single market, with the opening of borders, has been one of the main driving forces behind growth in Europe. Recent globalisation and technological change have created new challenges for the European Union (EU). This Single Market Act therefore proposes to meet these challenges by putting businesses and Europeans at the heart of the single market in order to create a reliable tool to promote growth.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 27 October 2010 – Towards a Single Market Act For a highly competitive social market economy 50 proposals for improving our work, business and exchanges with one another [COM(2010) 608 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Communication sets out various measures proposed by the European Commission in order to relaunch the single market and make it a driving force for growth again, so as to promote a social market economy. These measures concern businesses, citizens and the governance of the single market. The Single Market Act is an initiative presented jointly with the EU Citizenship Report 2010.

Measures proposed for businesses

In the European Union (EU), 20 million businesses employ 175 million citizens and supply goods and services to 500 million consumers both in the EU and abroad.

The Commission hopes to encourage and protect the creative potential of businesses by combating piracy. The Commission therefore intends to propose an action plan against counterfeiting and piracy in 2010, as well as a framework directive on the management of copyrights in 2011.

The Single Market Act aims to promote new approaches towards sustainable growth. One of these approaches concerns the development of the market in services on the basis of the ‘mutual evaluation’ process set out in the Services Directive. It also provides for initiatives to develop electronic commerce. To enhance the ‘sustainable’ nature of growth, the Commission will revise the Energy Tax Directive in 2011. As a further step, the Commission will present an energy efficiency plan in 2011.

European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent a significant source of innovation and jobs. To develop this potential, the Commission hopes to adopt an action plan in 2011 for improving SME access to capital markets. It also aims to link the Small Business Act with the 2020 strategy. In addition, it proposes a review of the accounting Directives to simplify SMEs’ financial reporting obligations.

To fund innovation and long-term investment, the Commission hopes to create project bonds to finance European projects. In addition, it proposes to eliminate any tax treatment that hampers cross-border activities and to make the awarding of contracts more flexible.

The Single Market Act lays the foundations of a business-friendly legal and fiscal environment. From this perspective, the Commission hopes to propose a Directive on a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) in 2011. A new VAT strategy is to be presented in the same year.

The EU must strengthen its competitiveness on international markets by further developing regulatory cooperation with its main trading partners. The idea is to develop an instrument which draws on the implementation of the EU’s international commitments.

Measures proposed for citizens

Public services and key infrastructure must be improved. To this end, the Commission intends to present a Communication including a series of measures on services of general interest. Concerning transport, the Commission hopes to adopt a revision of the guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network. The Commission also intends to adopt energy infrastructure priorities up to 2020/2030.

In addition, it is of paramount importance to increase solidarity in the single market. The Commission must therefore conduct a systematic analysis of the social impact of proposed legislation. It also intends to re-examine the Directive on the activities and surveillance of pension funds in 2011, and to launch a consultation with the social partners in order to create a European framework for industrial restructuring.

One objective of the Single Market Act is to guarantee access to employment and lifelong learning. The system for the recognition of professional qualifications should therefore be reformed, based on an evaluation of the acquis in 2011. In addition, mobility for young people is to be encouraged by developing a ‘Youth on the Move’ card.

New resources for the social market economy must be developed. The first step in this respect must be to improve the quality of the current legal structures (foundations, cooperatives, mutual associations, etc.) linked to the social economy. The Commission also intends to launch a public consultation on corporate governance, and to propose a Social Business Initiative in 2011.

Consumers are also at the heart of the single act for the internal market. The Commission therefore intends to evaluate existing practices concerning price comparison websites and to draw up guidelines for these websites based on Member States’ best practices. It also intends to draw up a multiannual action plan for the development of European market surveillance. Its priorities also include identifying and eliminating tax obstacles.

Measures proposed for good governance of the single market

The Commission is responsible for enforcing the rules of the single market. Member States are therefore called upon to increase the rate of transposition of the single market directives and to notify the transposition measures.

Good governance of the single market must be based on a genuine electronic network for European administrations. The Commission therefore intends to present a strategy on extending the Internal Market Information System in 2011.

Dispute resolution must be improved. European consumers lose 0.3 % of Europe’s GNP each year due to sales of defective goods or sub-standard services. To overcome these problems, the Commission intends to adopt an initiative on the use of alternative dispute resolution in the EU, and a recommendation on the network of alternative dispute resolution systems for financial services.

To provide citizens and businesses with specific information on the internal market, the Commission hopes to develop the ‘Your Europe’ internet portal and to coordinate it with ‘Europe Direct’. The SOLVIT network must also be reinforced.

Finally, the Commission intends to consolidate dialogue with civil society (consumers, NGOs, trade unions, businesses, savers and local authorities).


The Commission invites interested parties to submit their views on the relaunch of the single market by 28 February 2011.