The internal market is based on the four main freedoms (goods / people / services / capital), whereby all the necessary measures are taken to facilitate day-to-day life and create more opportunities for the consumers, businesses and public authorities that invest, purchase and sell goods and services within the internal European market.
With the new European legislature, the search for sustainable growth via the transition to a carbon-neutral economy requires a broader and more integrated vision of the internal market, through closer links with industrial and trade policies.
The internal market is still a work in progress, as evidenced by its imperfect integration in the market for services on account of persistent barriers, with some Commission proposals stepping on the toes of Member States when it comes to putting their own regulations in place.
Objectives for Belgium
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has demonstrated that, over and above the reflexes of certain Member States (border controls or bans on the export of critical goods, etc.), progress in the proper functioning of the internal market has remained very fragile, and that the Commission should ideally play an active role as guardian of the Treaty in monitoring and enforcing the existing instruments, in order to avoid further shortcomings in the future, thereby safeguarding the very foundations of the internal market.
Indeed, it is essential for Belgium that free movement and free access to goods and services be guaranteed through a barrier-free internal market. To this end, Belgium continues to prioritise harmonising rules, which should be maximised as they are easier to implement. Similarly, the quality of the legislation must be guaranteed, by being flexible and free of administrative burdens, and not losing sight of the importance of promoting the internal market in terms of visibility to the public (the famous "acquis communautaire"). The application of the acquis, including timely and high-quality transposition, is a continuous process.
For this reason, Belgium calls for the continual deepening of the internal market, as the driver for growth and employment, including a gradual economic, fiscal and social convergence (the fight against social dumping). It is essential to work towards merging the internal market with the digital market, with the advent of a data economy and the green transition ('Green Deal').
The various priority themes for Belgium include: a better integrated services market and the growth of SMEs/start-ups, the digital economy (data), the emergence of new technologies (artificial intelligence, etc.). Belgium closely monitors the following topics related to the digital and green agendas: the circular economy, the rise of e-commerce and electronic platforms, the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI), etc.
The recent presentation of the European industrial strategy by the Commission offers an initial response to Belgium's long-standing call for such a European framework in this area and for strengthening EU competitiveness at the global level, in particular through integration and diversification in European and global value chains. In this context, the emergence of the concept of strategic autonomy is gaining ground in the European debate, and will be further developed in the coming months; it must not under any circumstances lead to any form of protectionism.