Why enforcement matters?
The single market is based on commonly agreed rules. But EU rules only deliver benefits if they are correctly applied. Therefore, the Commission and Member States must work together to ensure EU law is correctly implemented and applied – this is called enforcement.
However, national governments, agencies, and regional and local authorities may sometimes misapply these rules when taking decisions in individual cases. They might refuse permission for a company from another EU country to sell its products or do business. They might also require the company to change its labelling. A person may face a problem importing a car bought in another EU country. An EU citizen working in another EU country may encounter problems getting an entry visa for their non-EU spouse. Sometimes, professionals wanting work in another Member State have difficulties getting their qualifications recognised.
Data on the transposition of EU law by Member States and on infringement cases show the state of correct implementation.
To avoid infringement procedures as much as possible, EU Pilot is a mechanism for informal dialogue between the Commission and the Member State concerned on issues of potential non-compliance with EU law.
The Internal Market Information System (IMI) is an IT application that connects national, regional and local authorities across the EU (and the EEA); Authorities can use it to communicate quickly and easily with their counterparts abroad. Quick and easy contacts between Member States authorities and a swift exchange of information are essential for people and businesses to benefit from their single market rights.
Notification procedures are pillars of the single market in ensuring the free movement of goods, the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services within the EU. They facilitate the exchange of information between Member States and the Commission and help prevent the creation of technical barriers to trade, the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment.
To ripe the full benefits of the single market citizens and businesses need to be well informed about their rights. The Your Europe portal and the Your Europe Advice service offer information and tailor-made advice on individual rights that come from EU law. SOLVIT helps solve problems that individuals or businesses may encounter with a public administration.
Formal and informal cooperation between the Commission and Member States
Administrative cooperation between national authorities
- Internal Market Information System (IMI)
- Notifications in the field of technical regulations (TRIS) and services (IMI)
Assistance services for individuals and businesses
Transposition and infringements:
- Member States have made some progress in implementing and enforcing the single market rules.
- The average percentage of all single market directives that have not been transposed into national law within the transposition period increased to 1.6%.
- The percentage of directives that have not been correctly transposed has slightly decreased to 1.3%.
- The number of single market infringements decreased for the first time in 4 years to 739 pending cases (-12% compared to 2020). One explanation is the wider use of the early problem-solving mechanism (EU Pilot), as requested by Member States.
- 2021 confirmed the trend of more frequent use of the EU Pilot dialogue, in particular for topics related to asylum, indirect taxation, energy and the environment.
- Commission departments used the EU Pilot dialogue, among others, as an efficient means to check and clarify transposition issues or to remind Member States of their notification and reporting obligations.
- With 81% of cases closed without launching an infringement procedure, the resolution rate was significantly higher in 2021 than in 2020 (63%).
- The policy area with the most EU Pilot files that led to formal infringement procedures is environment (10 cases).
Internal Market Information System (IMI)
- Almost 378 000 information exchanges have been sent through IMI since its launch in 2008. Use of the system increases steadily year on year.
- In 2021, IMI supported 67 cross-border procedures in 17 legal areas, replacing the need for at least 17 different IT systems.
- During 2021, work was undertaken to launch, in January 2022, two new IMI policy areas. These were: (i) the enforcement of the posting rules for operators and drivers in the road transport sector ("Mobility Package I"); and (ii) additional administrative cooperation provisions on refusals to grant authorisations to acquire or possess firearms.
Notifications in the field of technical regulations (TRIS) and services (IMI)
- The Single Market Transparency Directive has been effectively implemented over a considerable time, with more than 17 201 draft notifications since 1998.
- In 2021, 969 draft technical regulations were notified to the Commission by EU Member States, EEA countries, Switzerland and Türkiye. Of these, Member States withdrew 37 notifications, which did not require further follow-up.
- As regards these notifications in 2021, the Commission sent 42 detailed opinions, and issued 144 comments.
- Member States issued 67 comments and 22 detailed opinions.
- For yet another year, the SOLVIT network has shown its resilience and ability to help businesses, people and public authorities enjoy the benefits of the single market.
- In 2021, SOLVIT strengthened its expertise and authority in the mutual recognition of goods and two Commission opinions were published under the SOLVIT problem-solving procedure set out in the Regulation on Mutual Recognition for goods. These opinions assessed the compatibility with EU rules of administrative decisions denying market access to goods lawfully marketed in other Member States.
- SOLVIT also concluded an agreement with the European Labour Authority. The agreement provides a procedure for mediation in disputes between two or more Member States in individual cases of misapplication of EU law concerning EU labour mobility rules that cannot be resolved in SOLVIT.
- More businesses made use of the services SOLVIT offers (12% increase). Efforts to promote SOLVIT will continue to raise its profile in the business community.