Connect with us

European Commission

Single Market Task Force plays a key role in tackling barriers to the Single Market

SHARE:

Published

on

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

On 29 September, the Commission presented the first report on the work of the Single Market Enforcement Task Force (SMET). The report highlights the important role SMET has played in removing barriers introduced by some member states during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure in particular the availability of essential medical supplies and protective equipment across the Single Market. The Task Force also addressed restrictions that have challenged the functioning of the Single Market in the agri-food sector and restrictions affecting service providers. For instance, the Task Force succeeded in the removal of requirements for prior checks of professional qualifications in more than 160 professions. In addition, the report provides an overview of the working methods and actions taken by the Task Force so far and should serve as a basis for discussion on the future work of the Task Force.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “We set up the Single Market Task Force as a practical forum to find quick and tangible solutions with the Member States to make sure goods and services can flow freely within the EU. The Task Force has not only shown its value during the COVID pandemic, but has become a facilitator for businesses and citizens to fully benefit from the Single Market and resolve also structural barriers.”

This first SMET report will be presented to EU Ministers during the Competitiveness Council, taking place today. The Single Market Enforcement Task Force was set up following the Action Plan for Better Implementation and Enforcement of the Single Market adopted in March 2020 as part of the European Industrial Strategy. It has held regular meetings to identify and address priority barriers in the Single Market, to facilitate the removal of concrete obstacles hampering the freedom of our businesses and citizens to travel, live and do business in the EU. The SMET has contributed to improving the co-operation among national authorities, raising awareness about the central role of the Single Market in driving Europe's recovery and supporting the green and digital transitions of our economy.

Advertisement

European Commission

Commission carries out unannounced inspections in the wood pulp sector

Published

on

On 12 October, the European Commission conducted unannounced inspections in locations in several member states at the premises of companies active in the wood pulp sector.

The Commission has concerns that the inspected companies may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.

Wood pulp is a dry fibrous material made from wood, which is used to manufacture different paper products (tissue, writing paper, paperboard, etc.).

Advertisement

Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in an investigation into suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.

The Commission fully respects the rights of defence in its antitrust proceedings, in particular the right of companies to be heard.

The inspections have been conducted in compliance with all coronavirus health and safety protocols to ensure the security of those involved.

Advertisement

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate with the Commission and the scope of the exercise of the rights of defence.

Continue Reading

China

Climate Action: EU-China joint press communiqué on the fight against climate change ahead of COP26

Published

on

Following their second high-level environment and climate dialogue on 27 September 2021, Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China Han Zheng reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and a successful outcome of the COP26 in Glasgow. In a joint press release, they stressed the urgency to act immediately, notably in the light of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They also confirmed that that the high-level environment and climate dialogue will continue to be a key platform between the EU and China to enhance actions and bilateral cooperation on environment and in the fight against climate change. During their last meeting, they discussed various aspects of the global climate and biodiversity crises, with a focus on the forthcoming UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow and on COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming. More details on the discussion are available here

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Environment

Zero pollution: Commission report shows more needs to be done against water pollution from nitrates

Published

on

The latest Commission Report on the implementation of the Nitrates Directive (based on data for 2016-2019) warns that nitrates are still causing harmful pollution to water in the EU. Excessive nitrates in water are harmful to both human health and ecosystems, causing oxygen depletion and eutrophication. Where national authorities and farmers have cleaned up waters, it has had a positive impact on drinking water supply and biodiversity, and on the sectors such as fisheries and tourism that depend on them. Nevertheless, excessive fertilisation remains a problem in many parts of the EU.

Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: "The implementation of the Nitrates Directive over the last 30 years has undoubtedly increased water quality overall in the EU. We also see that real efforts to switch to sustainable methods are paying off. However, the pace of change is not enough to prevent damage to human health and preserve fragile ecosystems. In line with the European Green Deal, more urgent action is now needed to achieve a sustainable agriculture and protect our precious water supply.” 

Nitrate concentrations have fallen in both surface and groundwater in the EU compared to the situation prior to the adoption of the Nitrates Directive in 1991. However, the new report reveals that little progress has been made over the last decade and nutrient pollution from agriculture is still a serious concern for many member states. The Commission will act to improve compliance with the Nitrates Directive, which is a prerequisite for reaching the European Green Deal objective of reducing nutrient losses by at least 50% by 2030. More information is in the press release and this Q&A.

Advertisement

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending