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Single Market Scoreboard

Business framework conditions

This section of the scoreboard presents a set of indicators. These indicators assess Member States' performance on implementing specific business framework conditions that matter for the functioning of the single market and for competitiveness at firm level.  

The indicators are grouped into the following categories:

Main messages

Responsive administration and burden of regulation

The indicators on the burden of regulation point to positive progress in the single market. In 2021, according to stakeholders' perception, the averages score acroos the EU was between 3.5 and 4, on a scale from 0 (highest burden) to 7 (lowest burden), with improvements in 23 Member States over the previous 3 years. Stakeholders’ perceptions of regulation's impact on long-term investment decisions have improved in relation to most Member States and on average by 5% in the whole single market.

As regards administrative responsiveness, in 2022 the score on the provision of digital public services for businesses was approximately 80% or more than 80% for two thirds of Member States. By contrast, in 2022 average delays in payment by public authorities stood at almost 16 days, a significant increase from pre-pandemic times, with 19 out of 27 Member States showing higher public payment delays than in 2019. The time to resolve insolvency has remained overall stable, suggesting no major changes to insolvency legislation in Member States over the past years.

Market surveillance

The number of market surveillance investigations recorded in the ICSMS (Information and Communications System on Market Surveillance) is overall increasing in Member States. This is improving controls in the single market and creating a stronger basis for cooperation across Member States. The increase is particularly marked in sectors such as personal protective equipment and motor vehicles.

Access to public procurement

Overall the public procurement indicators suggest a stable situation at EU level, with slight improvement, as well as scope for the further progress in several Member States, in areas such as the share of public procurement tenders with single bidder and the share of direct awards. 

The number of tenders published continues to increase, albeit more slow due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the UK's withdrawal from the EU has significantly decreased the number of large procurements (in 2020 the UK accounted for 60% of EU awards of more than €100 million).

The publication rate of public procurements in terms of GDP continues to increase for most of the EU, with decreases in only a small minority of countries. In 2020, for the first time there was no EU country with a publication rate below 2%.

In 2021, the share of public procurement tenders with single bidder slightly decreased, breaking the continuous upward trend of the previous years. However, in several countries (14) this was still higher than the EU average.  The same situation applies in the case of another important indicator, the share of direct awards (“No calls for bids”).

There were significant improvements in the indicators on data quality (“Missing calls for bids”/”Missing seller registration numbers”/”Missing buyer registration numbers”). 

On eCertis, the indicators point to a positive trend in the availability of data made available by EU countries. However, there is room for improvement in the provision of documentary evidence.

Access to services and service markets

On professional services, the scoreboard shows little if any progress between 2007 and 2021 on reducting of regulatory barriers for entry to and the exercise of professions. Legal services remain the most protected profession in the single market. This has negative consequences for industrial competitiveness because EU companies devote a significant share of their intermediate consumption to legal services.

The rate of recognition of professional qualifications measures the share of positive decisions in applications for permanent establishment. This indicator shows that tourist guides (40%), real estate agents (58%), patent agents and lawyers (about 2/3 of applications) had the lowest chances of establishment.

The indicators on postal services show that the sector has compensated over time for the overall reduction in volumes via price increases (25 to 30% since 2015 for priority mail), while service quality has stabilised with 85% of domestic priority letters reaching the final recipient within the next day.

Labour mobility and matching across borders

The mobility of working age people across Member States increased on average by 19% between 2017 and 2020, which is beneficial to both citizens willing to work abroad and to businesses searching for personnel.

In 2020, on average 6% of people of working age were EU movers, i.e., EU citizens moving to a Member State other than their citizenship, although this share varies from 0 to 47% across Member States. The share of EU movers increased between 2017 and 2020.

EURES is an instrument a system set up by EU legislation which supports specifically the matching of workers across borders by increasing transparency on vacancies available in another Member States, EEA countries and Switzerland. The indicators suggest that EURES is a useful instrument facilitating intra-EU labour mobility. For instance, the large majority of countries (26) use the single coordinated channel to transfer both vacancies and CVs. This is in accordance with Article 17 of the EURES Regulation, which contributes to the matching of job vacancies with CVs across the EU, EEA and Switzerland. For 15 EURES countries, more job vacancies are published on the EURES website than reported by Eurostat. User satisfaction with the EURES services is also high, ranging between 7 and 10 points (out of a maximum of 10) in 19 countries.

Access to Finance

The indicators on access to finance show that the availability of venture capital in the single market is growing at a fast pace (over 3000% on average in the EU between 2018 and 2021), albeit starting from very low levels. In 2021, venture capital amounted on average to 0.48% of GDP. Certain difficulties remain for SMEs, as signalled by their perception of the availability of public support, including guarantees, and by business-to-business payment delays (52.5 days) are consistently higher than the target of 30 days recommended in the current Late Payment Directive.

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