Wednesday

20th Nov 2019

Internal market to be the EU's new integration project

  • A digital union, energy union and capital markets union are all in the offing - plus stronger implementation rules (Photo: Tambako the Jaguar)

The European Commission is planning much stronger emphasis on integrating the EU's internal market in a bid to get member states focussing on practical issues after years of squabbling over how to address the economic crisis.

“We need something which is common for everybody after being in crisis management mode for seven to eight years now. I feel very strongly that this could be very good for the European project,” said Jyrki Katainen, vice-president of the European Commission.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Jyrki Katainen hopes that a pragmatic focus on internal market integration will heal the political wounds of the economic crisis (Photo: European Parliament)

In the coming months plans for an energy union, a capital markets union and a digital union will be unveiled. There will also be a single market strategy focusing on how member states are implementing laws.

"I do hope that this commission will be remember for internal market development. There is a economic need but also a political need," he said.

Speaking to a group of journalists, the Finnish commissioner, in charge of growth and jobs, indicated this could heal the divisions that have arisen over the eurozone crisis, noting there is “no border line between south and north when it comes to internal market-related issues”.

Katainen was at the forefront of this division in his past job as Finnish prime minister. His goverment took a hard line in its approach to Greece's second bailout, something which eventually resulted in Helsinki demanding collateral for its loans.

More generally, the EU has seen northern countries such as Germany and the Netherlands push for deep spending cuts in bailout countries such as Greece, Portugal and Cyprus. The ideological split has been mirrored by deep differences in unemployment and poverty rates, which are generally much higher in southern member states.

Katainen points to the political element of harmonising rules and standards across a series of sectors to make it easier for people and firms to more freely consume or do business.

"This internal market exercise is extremely important because it will be the first time in many years where we all concentrate on deepening European integration."

However, it is being touted as more than integration for integration’s sake.

The Finnish commissioner is in charge of 'selling' his institution's flagship €315 billion growth plan to investors around the EU, but he notes that over the long term "the biggest impact on growth will come from the internal market side".

This focus will not only be about new proposals to break down barriers to the EU’s single market, but also clamping down on member states who don’t implement already-agreed rules.

"We are planning to get some stronger tools to monitor and to push member states to implement all internal market legislation," said Katainen.

"We should be as tough with implementation of internal market rules as we have been with fiscal policy rules," he added.

At the moment, the European Commission regularly publishes a list of member states which have failed to transpose EU laws, but the monthly exercise has little effect.

EU fiscal rules, tightened since the economic crisis, consist of a comprehensive monitoring and continuous assessment of governments attempts to stick to the deficit and debt rules underpinning the euro.

UK debate

Meanwhile, deepening the internal market could have other practical spin-offs, for instance, in relation to the UK’s domestic debate on the EU.

The country is due to have a membership referendum in 2017 if the Conservatives get back into power after the May election.

And London, traditionally one of the better pupils when it comes to putting in place EU laws, tends to frame its relation to the EU in terms of what the single market can bring the country.

Some voices in the commission believe that showing results in internal market integration might take some of the heat out of the UK’s domestic EU debate - largely focussed on immigration - and give politicians something concrete on which to centre discussion.

Ministers clash over Juncker fund

Germany’s finance minister warned that his government would not make extra contributions to the EU’s planned €300 billion investment vehicle, as ministers clashed on how the programme should be set up.

EU endorses controversial finance tool

Commissioner Hill has announced he wants to revive the securitisation market, saying the practice has been "stigmatised" because of the 2008 US sub-prime crisis.

EU agrees 2020 budget deal

EU governments and the parliament agreed in marathon talks ino next year's budget - which will boost spending on climate, border protection, and the European satellite system. It will also be a benchmark if there is no long-term budget deal.

EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Manchego cheese, Panjin rice and Polish vodka will all be protected under a new EU-China agreeement. But the two trading giants continue to struggle over other trade-related deals.

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us