Internal market

In brief

The internal market is central to the European Union and is undeniably a success story. The consolidation of this success is linked to the evolution of the economy, society and technology and especially of digital technology. For this reason, the European Commission presented in 2015 various strategies aimed at consolidating the internal market and adapting it to the digital age

The vast legislative work undertaken involves the active support of the Member States in its negotiation (through a Better Regulation) and its implementation.

The update of the internal market is based on various priorities in relation to the four freedoms (goods/labour/services/capital), and should be completed under the current European Parliament. The aim is to take the necessary measures to simplify daily life and create more opportunities for the consumers, businesses and public authorities that invest, purchase and sell goods and services in the internal European market.

Objectives for Belgium

However, there is no reason for an over-optimistic analysis, given the many barriers that still exist within the internal market some 20 years after its launch: the service sector lags behind the more integrated goods market, despite the progress made, and a number of (non-regulatory) obstacles persist, including the mobility of workers, often in a cross-border context.

This is why Belgium has called for the deepening of the internal market, a vital driver for growth and employment, including a gradual economic, fiscal and social convergence (fight against social dumping).

Among the measures available, Belgium wishes to promote the need for harmonisation which it is worth maximising because it is easier to implement (otherwise, a mutual recognition clause would have to be included in each new minimum harmonisation directive).

It supports a targeted approach in some sectors (digital, ...) for SMEs/innovative start-ups to be taken into account systematically, while maintaining a high level of protection for consumers, workers and the environment.

Among the priority themes for Belgium: an integrated services market, the growth of SMEs/start-ups, improved implementation of the Services directive. Belgium closely monitors the following issues: the collaborative economy, start-ups, simplifying electronic commerce and parcel delivery, discrimination against consumers and entrepreneurs (geo-blocking), the strengthening of the single market for goods and the consolidation of the European framework on intellectual property in the digital environment.

While it is important that existing legislation (acquis) is properly implemented, any new legislative initiative or new instrument (passport service type or adjustment to be made to the Internal Market Information System (IMI)) cannot lead to an additional cost  in terms of administrative charges.

Belgium supports a European framework for industrial policy and a strengthening of EU competitiveness at global level, in particular through its integration in the European and global value chains by exceeding the traditional opposition between service activities and manufactured goods and by providing reindustrialisation opportunities after the closure of industrial installations.

The application of the acquis e.g. through a timely and high-quality transposition requires constant work. Belgium supports any initiative (including within the European Commission) that aims to support and strengthen the various contacts/initiatives to improve the situation.

Useful links