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The lack of a common vision for the Single Market holds back European integration.
This is the main conclusion of the public hearing on “Legislative obstacles to the Single Market”, organized by the Single Market Observatory (SMO) of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) at the Czech Chamber of Commerce in Prague on May 25.
Enlargement of the EU successfully completed with the 2004 admissions which ended the division of Europe for good, attention must now be switched to removing all remaining obstacles to a European integration within an enlarged Single Market. What these obstacles actually are has been the target of a complementary study presented by The Technical University of Ostrava (Czech Republic) and the SMO.
The meeting was opened by Mr Bryan Cassidy, chairman of the EESC Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption. In his introductory speech, Mr Cassidy said that the Committee acted as a link between EU institutions and organized civil society.
Mr Radek Pažout, Secretary General of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, stressed that “the more representative structures are involved, the better the Single Market will function”. Mr Jan Hebnar, of the Czech Ministry for Industry and Trade, deplored the lack of a common vision for the Single Market.
Mr Tomás Liškutin, from the Czech Consumer association SOS, said that overregulation would be detrimental to consumers. He stressed the importance of education and information in removing remaining obstacles. The European Commission representative, Ms Nathalie Berger, emphasized the role of consumer education in the wake of the crisis, especially in relation to financial services. She also underlined the potential of the SOLVIT network which provides concrete solutions to problems with the operation of the Single Market.
Referring to concerns on the durability of the European social model voiced by Mr Vit Samek, of the Czech Confederation of Trade Unions (ČKMOS), Mr Joost Van Iersel (Group I, Employers – The Netherlands), rapporteur for the EESC exploratory opinion for the Czech Presidency on “The Impact of Legislative Barriers in the Member States on the Competitiveness of the EU”, declared that “EU legislation must be dynamic, though fundamental rights – including workers” rights – must remain intact”.
Mr Daniel Retureau, EESC member (Group II, Employees – France), said that a balance must be struck between economic and social freedoms. Mr Ivan Voleš, EESC member (Group I, Employers – Czech Republic), added that equality between new and old Member States in terms of fundamental rights would remain an illusion as long as there was no equality in terms of productivity. Ms Eva Semerakova, of the Czech Ministry for Industry and Trade, outlined the SOLVIT’s role in remedying obstacles linked to the misapplication of EU legislation. Interestingly enough, she said, most SOLVIT cases were related to social issues. Mr Jorge Pegado Liz (Group III, Various Activities – Portugal), Chairman of the SMO, concluded the hearing by stressing that the Single Market would never be completed because of its dynamic nature ;he thanked the Czech Presidency forits genuine interest in cooperating closely with the EESC on this complex, wide- ranging issue.