The 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union recently released its priorities, including Security and the Single Market. Both are high on Euralarm’s agenda.
Malta’s programme for the coming months until 30 June 2017 has been released this month. Following the terror attacks of the past 12 months, it will focus on the security of European citizens through concrete objectives aiming to fighting terrorism and better managing the EU’s external border.
But more importantly maybe for Euralarm Members, Malta has placed the Single Market on top of its agenda. Stating that it aims to remove barriers to trade, protection and access to services for consumers and concluding key legislation already being negotiated. Mainly, it will build on the Single Market Strategy released by Juncker’s Commission mid-2016.
The strategy takes stock of the fact that Single Market rules, while they have been clearly announced, are not known, implemented or simply undermined by other barriers. It aims to make those rules evolve so that innovative ideas and business models can find their place. A problem directly related to Euralarm’s efforts to allow European standardisation to keep up with the pace of innovation in its products’ sector.
On this front, it is notable that the EU Commission’s Single Market Strategy acknowledges that standards contribute to safety, innovation, and interoperability and are essential to building the Single Market. The document also recognises that the European standardisation system faces challenges from the changing nature of the economy, innovation and the growing importance of services. The Commission’s approach has been to launch a Joint Initiative including all actors of standardisation and in which Euralarm is highly involved.
Its objectives are for “Europe to continue developing as an international hub for standardisation, to allow realising the potential of service standardisation and to align the outputs of the European standardisation system with broad EU policy priorities.”
On services standards, where Euralarm Members have recently successfully pushed for more standardisation, the Commission notes that the long-existing Services Directive is delivering only a fraction of its potential. European standards are part of the solution as they can help improve the quality of the service. At European level, the Strategy states that service standards can play an important role in enhancing the cross-border provision of services, improving market transparency, service quality and the performance of service providers and because services are increasingly linked to manufacturing, this will have important positive impacts on our industrial competitiveness as well.
Learning from its experience, the EU Commission will not only rely on incentives but also on enforcement. “Non-compliance weakens the Single Market and lowers citizens’ confidence in it. Much can be done by enforcing the existing rules better,” the Commission notes, while also recognising that non-compliant products sold in the EU market endanger consumers.
Over the course of 2017, the Commission will table a comprehensive set of actions to further enhance efforts to keep non-compliant products from the EU market. It will also revise the Mutual Recognition Regulation: the EU Commission recognises that the principle of mutual recognition which ensures that goods that are lawfully marketed in one Member State, enjoy the right to free movement and can be sold in another Member State, is not being applied in several areas.
Finally, the European executive branch wants to develop a data analytics tool for monitoring Single Market legislation.