Select Committee on European Scrutiny Sixth Report



Commission Working Document — Single Market Scoreboard.

Legal base:
Document originated: 23 November 2000
Forwarded to the Council: 27 November 2000
Deposited in Parliament: 11 January 2001
Department: Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: EM of 15 January 2001
Previous consideration: None
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared

The Commission document

  14.1  As part of the Single Market Action Plan (SMAP), agreed in June 1997, the Commission undertook to produce a "Single Market Scoreboard" during each Presidency of the European Union. This is the seventh edition.

  14.2  The aim of the Scoreboard is to monitor the functioning of the single market and allow Member States to compare their performances in certain key areas. This edition is divided into four parts.

  14.3  Part A focuses on progress towards implementing the target actions that comprise the Internal Market Strategy. The Commission notes that only 44 of the target actions due for completion by the end of 2000 would meet this deadline, although a further 28 are likely to be completed early in 2001. The Commission then substituted 10 priority target actions to be completed by December 2000, of which 8 have been completed, including:

—  adoption of a directive on copyright and related rights information society;

—  adoption of directive on rail safety;

—  full implementation of the directive on common rules for the internal market in electricity; and

—  proposals for removing barriers to trade in services.

  14.4  The Commission also notes that reasonable progress has been made on the Financial Services Action Plan.

  14.5  Part B, which usually attracts most attention, gives an overview of the regulatory environment in the single market, particularly with regard to the transposition of EU directives into national law. According to this edition of the Scoreboard, the percentage of directives not yet implemented in at least one Member State is 12.8%, compared with 13% reported in the previous Scoreboard. The UK is in sixth position, with the percentage of Directives that remain to be transposed having fallen to 2.7% from 3.3% at the time of the last Scoreboard. Greece, France and Portugal have the highest deficit on transposing Directives whereas Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Spain are identified as the best Members States in dealing with their transposition process. The variation between the best and the worse performing Member States has narrowed. In terms of delays, France continues to show the longest delay in notifying overdue legislation (18 months compared to 6 months for Spain and 10.6 months for the UK).

  14.6  As for infringements, during the period from January 1998 to December 1999 the UK received 34 letters of formal notice and 14 reasoned opinions. The UK has the highest percentage of cases closed (59%), suggesting that the UK is more prepared to engage in constructive dialogue. The Scoreboard notes that significant progress has been made in establishing a regulatory framework for Information Society services.

  14.7  Part C reports on the Business Survey Headline Results. This shows that business satisfaction with the single market is measured at 64%, up from 62% in the previous Scoreboard. However, at 59% the UK shows the lowest levels of business satisfaction whereas the Danes show that they are the most satisfied (70%). The Explanatory Memorandum states:

"The problem most often cited by businesses is the cost of making goods and services compatible with differing national standards or the need to conduct unusual testing and certification procedures. Other obstacles include distortions due to state aids, VAT obligations, inadequate mechanisms for dealing with cross border breaches of contract and discriminatory tax regimes. Asked what should be done to improve the Internal Market, nine out of ten businesses said they would like administrative procedures to be simplified and for rules to be standardised."

  14.8  Part D reports on the findings from the Dialogue with Citizens and Business, specifically the results of the Business Feedback Mechanism. The report shows that over a six month period 5,761 responses were registered on a range of subjects. Overall, an analysis of the findings shows that the majority of responses from business relate to adapting to new legislation, especially concerning the euro and standardisation.

The Government's view

  14.9  The Minister for Energy and Competitiveness in Europe (the Rt. Hon. Helen Liddell) comments that the primary aim of the Scoreboard is to monitor a range of indicators which reflect the health of the single market. She adds:

"It has no direct policy implications, but nonetheless has proved extremely useful both as a means of evaluating developments in the Single Market and as a spur towards greater achievement."


  14.10  The Scoreboard provides a useful source of information on, amongst other things, the relative performance of Member States in transposing Directives. We duly note the progress made by the United Kingdom over the six- month period and are content to clear this document.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 2 March 2001