In May 2017, the European Commission presented its proposal for a single market information tool (SMIT), as a part of its ‘compliance package’ of three proposals to enhance the practical functioning of the single market.
According to the Commission, competition and consumer protection in the single market are often undermined by measures such as price discrimination based on residency, geo-blocking of online audio-visual content, or limited cross-border parcel delivery. Whilst many businesses do not cooperate with the Commission by e.g. disclosing their pricing structure, Member States often do not have the means or the tools to collect and deliver the required information to the Commission. As a measure of last resort subject to confidentiality requirements, the SMIT would provide the Commission with powers to request business-related information (such as cost structure or product volumes sold) and address regulatory and market failures in a more timely and efficient way.
Eva Maydell (EPP, BG), rapporteur of the European Parliament on the issue, presented her draft report to the committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) on 12 July 2018. The report welcomes the continuous work of the European Commission in enhancing the compliance and strengthening the functioning of the single market through the Single Market Strategy and highlights the added value of a procedure by which the Commission may request undertakings to provide information in relation to the functioning of the internal market.
However, the new procedure should avoid becoming an unnecessary burden, and not impose disproportionate administrative and financial requirements. MEP Maydell suggests that, in order to avoid its disproportionate use, the SMIT should only be requested in the context of initiating or substantiating infringement procedures. Also, in order to gain the confidence of companies in Europe and for SMIT to improve the functioning of the internal market, it is central to ensure confidentiality of sensitive information received through a request. The rapporteur would like to stress that information marked as confidential by respondents should remain confidential and should be shared with the relevant authorities only when necessary to substantiate an infringement procedure.
Prior to the presentation of the Commission proposal, the Council called on the Commission to prioritise “smart but firm enforcement actions, based on transparent and objective criteria, targeting the most economically significant cases of unjustified or disproportionate barriers, and drawing on dedicated, ring-fenced resources,” highlighting the caution of Member States and companies, and calling for the SMIT to be carefully calibrated.
Following the Commission’s proposal for a SMIT in May 2017, giving it the possibility to request detailed information from any company on the ground of impacts on the internal market, the PSB will disseminate CEEP amendments to influence European institutions’ work in the legislative process in order to achieve a more balanced regulation.
Seen its potential impact on the operations of undertaking, the CEEP Public Services Board will closely follow the developments on this file, highlighting the importance of a balanced instrument, benefiting the running of the Single Market without endangering the operations of undertakings.