Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Third Report


SEC(01) 1908

Commission Working Document — Single Market Scoreboard.

Legal base:
Document originated:29 November 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 30 November 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 31 January 2002
Department:Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: EM of 13 February 2002
Previous Committee Report: None
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared, but further information requested


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

  12.2  The purpose of the Scoreboard is to monitor the functioning of the single market and allow Member States to compare their performance in certain key areas.

The document

  12.3  This edition is divided into three parts: part one deals with "Implementing the Internal Market's Legal Framework"; part two deals with "Completing the Internal Market"; and part three discusses a survey of the "Regulatory Environment" that was commissioned by the European Commission. The main findings of each part are summarised by the Commission as follows.

— Implementing the Internal Market's Legal Framework

    "—  The average transposition deficit has been reduced to 2% since the May Scoreboard. However, 10% of directives have not yet been transposed in all Member States.
  • Finland, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain currently meet the 1.5% deficit target set by the European Council for Spring 2002.

  •  Finland and Greece have made most progress since May. However, the UK, France and Germany have not made as much headway as could have been expected.

  • The average deficit in the social policy field is 5.4%. Austria and Belgium have deficits in double digits. The average deficit for the environment is 6.2% where France, Germany, Spain and the UK have the worst record.

  • The number of Internal Market infringement proceedings is about 1,500. France and Italy are responsible for nearly 30% of all cases.

  • Only about one third of infringement cases are settled early. None of the Member States have a good record here. When infringements go to Court, it usually takes several years before they are settled. Belgium is the Member State that has failed to execute Court rulings most often.

  • Problems remain with European standards, particularly for construction products and the machinery sector. Adopting standards can take up to 8 years."

— Completing the Internal Market

    "—  63% of the Internal Market Strategy's target actions[24] due by the end of 2001 are expected to be completed on time. This is better than last year, but still disappointing.
  • The new Internal Market Index shows that there has been gradual, but slow, improvement in the functioning of the Internal Market (from 100 in 1996 to 105.1 in 2000).

  • Progress on the Financial Services Action Plan is on track, but much work remains to be done."

— Survey of the Quality of the Union's Regulatory Environment

    "—  Dutch companies are most satisfied with the quality of regulation that applies to them; German and French companies are the least satisfied. Product conformity is the number one regulatory concern for companies in Europe.
  • The Commission estimates that euro50 billion could be saved with better quality legislation.

  • Most companies have not yet felt any impact from governments' attempts to simplify legislation, particularly companies in France, Germany and Denmark.

  • Finland is perceived to be the easiest Member State to trade with; the UK and Italy the most difficult."

The Government's view

  12.4  In her Explanatory Memorandum of 13 February 2002, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Competition, Consumers and Markets (Miss Melanie Johnson) told us:

    "The primary aim of the Scoreboard is to monitor a range of indicators which reflect the health of the Single Market. 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. For example, the Commission's Internal Market Strategy lists the four strategic objectives of the Lisbon Summit and developments in this. It is one way of monitoring how work is progressing and picking up on areas of difficulty. The Scoreboard helps to maintain the pressure on Member States to implement European legislation on time and enables both the Commission and Member States to identify problems. This in turn provides a basis for improving the regulatory environment.

    "The section focussing on attitudes to the Union's Regulatory Environment provides valuable data on companies perception and indicates where companies would like improvements to be made. Similarly, Financial Services Action Plan highlights the case for European financial integration as a motor for growth and employment. For these reasons, the Government supports the continued use and development of the Single Market Scoreboard"


  12.5  The Scoreboard provides a useful source of information on, amongst other things, the relative performance of Member States in transposing Directives. The document states that all countries moved towards the target, except Luxembourg. Greece, France and Austria have the largest deficit in transposing Directives whereas Finland, Denmark and Sweden are identified as the best Member States in dealing with transposition. We were pleased to note that, of the major Member States, the UK has the lowest number of infringement cases before the European Court of Justice. However, on a number of other indicators, the UK's relative performance is poor. For example, overall, the UK is ranked twelfth, with 2.8% of national implementing measures overdue compared with a target of 1.5% and an EU average of 2%. We were surprised that the Minister did not provide any explanation for this relatively poor performance nor any indication of what the Government is proposing to do to improve it. We were also concerned that the Minister has not provided any explanation of the document's observation that the UK is one of the most difficult countries to trade with.

  12.6  We ask the Minister to provide this further information. Meanwhile, we are content to clear the document.

24  Examples of priority targets missed include the Take-over Bids Directive and the Directive on protection of Biotechnological Inventions. Back

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