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What strategy for a genuine single market?

Pelkmans, Jacques, (2016), “What strategy for a genuine single market?”, CEPS,  Special Report No. 126, 13 January.

This strategy paper focuses on making the most of the EU single market. The EU should pursue a genuine single market, and treat it as a common asset of all its citizens, economic operators and member states. The economic case to be made on behalf of the genuine single market is powerful, even more so due to the findings of recent empirical economic research. However, only the genuine single market can realise the expectations of such large gains. Weak, ‘feasible’ action plans cannot! The strategy is based, first of all, on a clear design of the genuine single market and subsequently concentrates on ‘what it takes’. Ten types of actions sum up ‘what it takes’: five at the EU level, four at the EU-member state interface, and finally, the realisation of legitimacy and acceptance. The five types of action at the EU level include cluster strategies (e.g. digital single market; energy union); actions for cross-cutting economic activities (e.g. [r]etail and logistics); horizontal approaches (e.g. public procurement, especially more credible national enforcement; consumer protection); a more detached application of EU better regulation and finally alternative design of segments of the single market (e.g. capital markets union and the Unitary Patent). The four types of action at the EU-member state interface are based on the premise that member states ought to exercise their powers in ways that minimise or avoid negative effects on the single market. The actions include the pre-emption of the exercise of national powers hindering the functioning of the single market (e.g. major distortions, lowering costs of regulatory heterogeneity), optimal centralisation of powers in four EU network industries and in financial markets, member states acting as good custodians of single market functioning in their own country and effective enforcement and market surveillance. Finally, legitimacy of the single market has been negatively affected in a few sectors such as road transport, horticulture, construction and aspects of tourism. Legitimacy is of the essence for any single market strategy worthy of the name, implying that more firm measures to end adverse developments hitting a small segment of the working population must be taken.

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