In the context of Romania’s office at the helm of the Council of the European Union, the Ministry of the Economy and the European Commission co-organised the “Single Market Forum 2018/2019”, an ample event that brought to Bucharest more than 200 Romanian and foreign guests.
The event focused on a topic of high importance on the European agenda, as the single market has played and will continue to play a crucial role in the economy of the EU, and its effective functioning essentially contributes to preserving the EU competitiveness.
In his opening address, Secretary of State in the Ministry of the Economy Ilie Călin Bodea emphasised that the single market “is the instrument that safeguards and strengthens the position of the EU in the current changing geopolitical context, strewn with challenges and opportunities”. The Romanian official also announced the adoption of the EU’s Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 by the European Council of June 20, 2019. The Agenda laid down that the single market was, in all its dimensions, a key asset of the European economy and that, for the purposes of competitiveness, strengthening the single market policy must go hand in hand with the EU’s new industrial policy.
Also in the opening session of the forum, Director Hubert Gambs of DG Grow, delivered the message of the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elzbieta Bieńkowska.
Róża Gräfin von THUN UND HOHENSTEIN, member of the European Parliament and founder of the Single Market Forum delivered a video message where, inter alia, she emphasised the importance of the event and congratulated the team working in the Ministry of the Economy for the outstanding results they obtained under the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The 2018/2019 Single Market Forum enjoyed the participation of MEP Maria Grapini, of Gabriela-Mihaela Voicilă, Secretary of State in the Ministry for the Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship, of eMAG CEO Iulian Stanciu, of Renata Juszkiewicz, Vice President of EuroCommerce and President of the Polish Organisation of Trade and Distribution, of Marius Pîrvu, President of the National Authority for Consumer Protection, of Bogdan Pușcaș, President of the National Agency for Public Procurement, of Iuliana Chilea, CEO of Romanian Standards Association, of Malcom Harbour, Senior Adviser and Chairman of the Single Market Round Table in the European Policy Centre, former MEP and Chairman of IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection EP Committee) for several legislative cycles.
The topics debated in the Single Market Forum 2018/2019 focused on areas of immediate relevance for authorities and consumers as well as for the business environment.
Services are of major relevance, as also highlighted in the European Council Conclusions of March 2019, which called for further deepening the single market, with particular emphasis on a service economy. This approach is strongly anchored in today’s reality, where an important share of the world’s production is generated in global value chains and products are increasingly traded together with related services. The debates highlighted that it was important for the existing regulations to be adequately implemented and for the competent authorities in the EU Member States to engage in cross-border cooperation.
Retail – the single market is the framework that ensures the consumers’ trust in the products and the services supplied on the EU market, which gives the retail sector not only the highest visibility for consumers but also the essential task of providing only such products/services that are safe and good quality. The participants highlighted the positive impact that digitalization had on the growth of businesses as well as the challenges brought by the large-scale spreading of e-commerce and by the changes in consumption patterns. Standardisation – in the context where digital technology has become an integral component of the single market, it is essential to have available standards that ensure the interoperability of products and related services. In the opinion of the participants, the main challenge for Eu standardisation is to timely provide harmonised standards that are aligned with the changes brought about by the digital transformations. Public procurement is an important tool for deepening and strengthening the single market, for promoting innovation and for using public funds in a manner that is both efficient and generates the outcomes the population expects. On taking the floor, the participants highlighted the need to digitalise public procurement procedures to the largest possible extent and emphasised the importance of training. Market surveillance, compliance of products and mutual recognition – in the context of the adoption of the Regulation on market surveillance and product compliance under the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the debates emphasised the importance of cooperation between the European Commission and the Member States in order to strengthen the administrative capacity of the market surveillance authorities and to develop the necessary product testing infrastructure. It would ensure that only products that comply with EU regulations and that safeguard a level playing field among economic operators are placed on the EU market. With regard to the Regulation on mutual recognition, its provisions ensure the free, EU-wide movement of the goods that are legally sold in a Member State but that are not covered by the harmonised EU legislation.
In the concluding session of the event, Kristin Schreiber, Director in charge of SMEs, Entrepreneurship and the COSME Programme in DG Grow, emphasised the role of the event, notably as the current European legislative and institutional cycle were about to end, and congratulated the team of the Ministry of the Economy and the Brussels team of the Permanent Representation of Romania to the EU for their engagement and for the outstanding outcomes obtained in the legislative and non-legislative negotiations, as well as for organising events focusing on topics of relevance for the single market.
In that context, it is noteworthy that the Ministry of the Economy chaired the Competitiveness Council and that Romania’s priorities under the Council Presidency included the single market and the industry, areas of major relevance in the current economic and social EU context.
This period of intense effort resulted in the conclusion of 12 legislative files having a major impact on the single market and the business environment, while the Competitiveness Council of May 2019 adopted its Conclusions on “A new level of ambition for a competitive single market”. The Conclusions highlight that the challenges of digitalisation and of the new business models must be given careful consideration, and also underline the need to remove unjustified barriers within the single market, to adequately implement the existing regulatory framework and to place the citizens and the businesses at the forefront.