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Pilot for border regions to overcome barriers for the cross-border provision of services

In its SME strategy, the European Commission announced it will support a pilot on pioneer partnerships among border regions to enhance cooperation to enforce the single market and remove administrative barriers.

The Commission staff working document ‘Business Journey on the single market: Practical Obstacles and Barriers’ identifies 31 barriers that prevent businesses from exploiting the full potential of the Single Market.

In the ‘Long term action plan for better implementation and enforcement of single market rules’, it is acknowledged that further integration and improvement of the services markets could increase the EU-GDP by some €300 billion per year. Although the Services Directive facilitated the cross-border service provision since its adoption, the intra-EU share of trade in services reaches around 8% of the EU-GDP, while the intra-EU share of trade in goods accounts for 25% of the EU-GDP.  At the same time, the European Union is a service economy with an overall share of 70% in the Union’s GDP.

As the communication ‘The Single Market in a changing world’ already pointed out, with the increasing globalised competition, the competitive advantage of the Union rests in the service input and the service component of the different value chains. Cross-border service provision is, therefore, key to the future competitiveness of the EU. This is even more valid in light of the efforts to relaunch the EU economy after the COVID-19 crisis and the need to become more resilient.

The Commission contracted a study on the economic impact of border obstacles on GDP and employment levels in internal land border regions (included in COM(2017) 534) which estimates that, even if only 20% of the existing obstacles were removed, border regions would increase their GDP by 2%

This call for expressions of interest and pilot should also provide synergy with the proposed European cross-border mechanism (ECBM), which aims to resolve legal and/or administrative border obstacles under national law (including national laws transposing EU directives) concerning cross-border projects either through a European Cross-Border Commitment, which itself enables derogation from normal rules, or a European Cross-Border Statement, whose signatories will need to undertake further legislative actions to amend normally applicable rules.

Cross-border projects cover a piece of infrastructure managed by or a cross-border public service provided by a (mainly public-law) entity. The ECBM can therefore only resolve border obstacles for a specific project of a specific entity under national law, whereas the pilot may also address border obstacles under EU law.

The call should mobilise border regions that have already acknowledged and experienced market access barriers due to regulatory or administrative obstacles in the spirit of a bottom-up single market.

It should also lead to long-lasting structured partnerships of volunteering border regions, which eventually should result in the alleviation or abolishment of market access barriers for cross-border service providers. 

Find out more here.

Friday, 30 October, 2020