Europe must complete and strengthen its single market for companies to be able to take full advantage of the stronger economic environment, said BusinessEurope in a paper sent to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. It also recommended that regulatory costs for companies be cut.
BusinessEurope, a lobby group for growth and competitiveness for European businesses, told Juncker in its paper: “The European business community calls for a renewed commitment to the single market and for an ambitious agenda to remove all remaining barriers that continue to hamper free movement.”
The proposals respond directly to a European Commission white paper on the future of Europe, which outlined five basic scenarios: carrying on; nothing but the single market; those who want to do more; doing less more efficiently; and doing much more together.
According to BusinessEurope, the focus should be on doing less more efficiently—which the Commission defines as delivering more and faster in selected policy areas—and doing much more together with member states sharing more power, resources and decision-making processes.
BusinessEurope said that it was “highly concerned” about new protectionist trends in some parts of Europe and the introduction of national measures that fragment the single market. It also lamented the diverse interpretation of agreed rules.
“It is fundamental for companies that extra or differing national requirements are held to a minimum and only kept when justified. Businesses need a stable regulatory environment, which is transparent and predictable to operate well throughout the single market.
It said the EU should also set clear objectives for reducing regulatory costs for businesses. To achieve this there should be improved impact assessment of planned regulation and evaluation of existing regulation.
Pragmatic proposals are needed to facilitate cross-border provision of services and an end to unfair competition. “More common and effective enforcement is needed to support companies in providing their goods across the single market,” it said.
BusinessEurope also urged the Commission to end national data localisation measures and support the free flow of data to ensure the transition towards a digital single market.
Among other items on its wish list, BusinessEurope said the EU needs to strengthen trade policy (concluding ambitious trade deals), deepen economic and monetary union, and launch a renewed industrial policy for Europe, with an end to protectionism and a focus on digitalisation and the low-carbon economy.
“European companies are drivers of innovation and creativity and respect high standards regarding labour, consumers and the environment,” said BusinessEurope. “Their capacity to maintain and even improve these qualities must therefore be safeguarded.”
The Commission said it is working on a plan to be presented by the time European Parliament elections are held in June 2019.