Internal Market

The Internal Market, which started as an area of free movement of goods, services, capital and persons, and was further developed by the consolidation of economic integration, the euro and solidarity and cohesion policies, has become a part of people’s everyday life in their professional and private activities. Within the internal market, EU citizens can nowadays live, work, study and engage in commercial transactions, in any EU country with far less barriers and obstacles than ever before. The significant contribution of the Single Market to growth, job creation and competitiveness in Europe over the last 20 years, as well as the need to better exploit the untapped potential and to deal effectively with the major hardships from the ongoing economic crisis, have unavoidably led to the prioritisation of the strengthening of the Single Market, as one of the strongest tools for the promotion of a highly competitive social market economy.

In particular, the Presidency will prioritise the completion of the procedure for the adoption by the Council and the European Parliament of the existing Single Market Act (SMA) proposals, as well as on promotion of possible new actions (SMA II).

The current SMA was adopted by the European Commission, in April 2011, following a pan-European public consultation. It consists of 12 levers ranging from citizens’ mobility, access to finance for small businesses and consumer protection to the development of digital technology, social entrepreneurship and the energy, telecoms and transport networks. Each lever consists of a key and several complimentary actions aiming at growth, job creation, strengthening of confidence and building of citizens’ trust, so that the Single Market can operate on stable economic and social foundations.

The Cyprus Presidency recognizing the importance of the Single Market as one of the strongest tools for the promotion of a highly competitive social market economy, will support the Single Market Act initiatives, which are capable of stimulating growth, creating jobs and providing tangible results to citizens, employees and businesses.

The Presidency will also initiate work on the expected Single Market Act II and organise a celebration event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Single Market.

  • Τhe modernization of the legislative framework on public procurement can be used as a lever for the development of a greener, more social and supportive of innovation Single Market , thus contributing towards the achievement of the Europe 2020 Strategy targets. Simpler and more flexible rules and procedures will reduce the administrative cost and improve the efficiency of public expenditure, especially under the present conditions of budgetary constraints. At the same time, access to such contracts must be made easier, especially for SMEs and cross border suppliers, thus generating benefits at European level. The Cyprus Presidency will therefore place emphasis on the reform package on public procurement, namely the proposals on Classical, the Utilities and the award of Concessions Directives, which is an important component of the Single Market Act and Europe 2020 Strategy.

  • The modernization of the existing legislative framework on the recognition of professional qualifications is high on the agenda of the Cyprus Presidency, given its impact on the mobility of professionals between Member States and to address the challenge of the increasing demand for highly skilled jobs towards the benefit of the labour market and competitiveness. It is imperative to proceed with the simplification of the rules and procedures for the mobility of skilled labour and the reinforcement of trust and cooperation between Member States. The creation of a professional card will allow simpler and faster recognition of professional qualifications. At the same time, it will address people’s concerns about the lack of effective alert mechanisms in the event of professional malpractice, notably in the health sector.

  • The modernization of the legal framework regulating intellectual property in the European Union has been identified in the Europe 2020 Strategy as a prerequisite for boosting the competitiveness of the EU innovative industry. 

    Intellectual property rights (IPR) are the property rights for copyrights, trademarks, patents, designs etc.

    Currently, there are still some gaps in the IPR protection and their means of capitalisation within EU. For example, the European patent system is complex, fragmented and costly. Obtaining a European patent validated in only 13 Member States can cost up to ten times more than a US patent. In effect, patent litigation is costly since disputes related to patents have to be resolved in different national courts. Towards this end, the Presidency will keep up the efforts started from the previous Presidencies for the creation of the Unified Patent Court, which will handle disputes related to European patents and unitary patents.

    The creation of a European framework for online copyright licensing is a way to stimulate the legal offer of protected cultural goods and services across the EU. Measures creating a true single market for online creative content as well as to facilitate the preservation and accessibility of orphan works through their digitization, are also part of the Presidency’s programme.

    Moreover, the management of IPR in digital or other form plays an important role in the way these IPRs are made available to the public and how the rights holders are compensated. To this end, the Cyprus Presidency will work towards the establishment of new common rules on governance, transparency and effective supervision of the collective rights management societies. 

    The Presidency will also work on the recast of the existing community trademark system. The objective of the revision of the community trademark instruments is to create faster, higher quality trade mark registration systems, which are more consistent, user friendly and technologically up-to-date.

  • Continuous improvement and harmonization of the rules on company law and corporate governance contribute greatly to improving the business environment, making it easier for enterprises to compete successfully in global markets and contribute to economic growth.

    Therefore, the reduction of regulatory and administrative burdens through the simplification of accounting rules and financial disclosure requirements, particularly for small businesses, is imperative. Furthermore, tighter control of financial reporting and greater transparency in payments made by mining and logging companies to governments as well as the reform concerning the statutory audits of annual and consolidated financial statements and the specific requirements regarding statutory audit of public-interest entities will result in restoring consumer confidence and protecting the investors, workers and citizens against corporate fraud and mismanagement, with beneficial consequences for financial stability.

    In light of the above, the Cyprus Presidency will work towards the completion of the revision of the accounting directives, as well as the promotion of the audit reform proposals concerning the statutory audits of annual and consolidated financial statements and the specific requirements regarding statutory audit of public-interest entities. Furthermore, in order to encourage the establishment and operation of Foundations in the internal market, for the benefit of citizens across the EU, the Cyprus Presidency will carry on the work on the proposal on the Statute for a European Foundation, as well as on corporate governance and the future of European Company Law will be initiated.

  • Ensuring high level protection of consumers and their interests is of the utmost importance, as it is a crucial factor for improving the EU citizens’ quality of life. Ensuring complete and transparent information for consumers enhances competition and provides the possibility of making an informed choice. Quick, inexpensive and effective out-of-court consumer dispute resolution is expected to significantly boost consumers’ and traders’ confidence to engage in cross-border transactions.

    Alternative Dispute Resolution / Online Dispute Resolution

     In the context of the efforts to improve the functioning of the retail internal market and more particularly to enhance redress for consumers, the European Commission presented a proposal for a Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the EU, together with a proposal for a Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (ODR). Under the present proposals, Member States shall ensure that all disputes between a consumer and a trader arising from the sale of goods or the provision of services can be submitted to an ADR entity, also through on-line means. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms differ between Member States and in order for consumers to fully exploit their potential, it is necessary that alternative dispute resolution is available to consumers.

    The dossier is considered an important issue for the Cyprus Presidency. Having in mind the considerable work done so far in this field, the Cyprus Presidency is expected to conduct negotiations with the European Parliament.