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Single Market Scoreboard

Business framework conditions

This section of the Single Market Scoreboard presents a set of indicators. These indicators assess EU Member States' performance on implementing specific business framework conditions that matter for the functioning of the single market and for businesses’ competitiveness. 

The indicators are grouped into the following categories:

Main messages

Responsive administration and burden of regulation

The indicators on the burden of regulation suggest that while overall business framework conditions are improving in the single market, difficulties remain in specific areas. In 2022, stakeholders’ perception of the regulatory burden in the EU was on average 3.8, on a scale of 0 (highest burden) to 7 (lowest burden) and up from 3.6 in 2021. This is the result of improvements taking place in the large majority of Member States over the last years. According to the latest EIB Investment Survey, in 2023 the average percentage of respondents across Member States considering regulation as an obstacle to long-term investments has fallen from 65% in 2020 to 61% in 2023.

On administrative responsiveness, in 2022 EU countries scored between 44.6 and 100 on the digital public services for businesses index, with an EU average of 83.7. More than 70% of EU countries scored above 80. By contrast, in 2023, the average delay in payments by public authorities was more than 17 days. This is a significant increase from the pre-COVID-19 pandemic years and a slight increase compared to 2020, the first year of the pandemic. The time to resolve insolvency has remained overall stable, suggesting no major changes to insolvency legislation in Member States in recent years.

Market surveillance

The indicators on market surveillance suggest that the number of investigations recorded in the ICSMS (Information and Communications System on Market Surveillance) is increasing in most Member States (with very high growth in the motor vehicles sector). This is improving controls in the single market and creating a stronger basis for cooperation across Member States.

Access to public procurement

In 2022, the proportion of public procurement tenders with a single bidder rose to the highest level in the last 10 years. There are still 13 countries with a high percentage, which shows there is room for improvement in the coming years.

Despite a small increase compared to 2021, the level of direct awards follows the overall results of recent years.

The publication value of public procurement as a proportion of national gross domestic product (GDP) continued to increase on average in 2022, overall getting closer to the benchmark value of 6%, although it decreased in 10 countries since 2021; in 2022 there was no EU country with a publication value below 2%.

Indicators on data quality (i.e. missing previous publication numbers, missing supplier registration numbers, missing buyer registration numbers) continue to improve significantly. Nevertheless, there is a large discrepancy in countries’ results, which indicates big room for improvement in some Member States.

According to eCertis indicators, the availability of data provided by EU countries remained stable between 2022 and 2023. Overall, most countries have a complete set of evidences on exclusion ground.

Access to services and service markets

On professional services, the scoreboard shows little if any progress between 2017 and 2021 on reducing 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 large majority of requests for recognition of professional qualifications between 2019 and 2021 were successful. At EU level, 71% of the cases recorded in the regulated professions database were concluded by a decision of recognition, 10% by a decision of non-recognition, and the remaining 19% were either unsettled (no decision taken), under examination or subject to appeals. 

For postal services, the price indicator shows the increasing impact of digitalisation on letter mail. Prices for a priority letter in 2021 were 35% more expensive than in 2016. This increase partly compensates for the loss of revenue from falling volumes and higher costs due to inflation. However, the quality of service in the single market has remained stable on average: 84% of domestic priority letters reach the final recipient by the next day.

Labour mobility and matching across borders

In 2022, on average 3.8% of people of working age were EU movers (people in an EU country who are nationals of another EU country). However, this figure varies from less than 2.5% in many central and eastern European countries to more than 10% in countries like Austria, Cyprus and Luxembourg. Overall, the number of EU movers increased by 1.5% between 2019 and 2022. Mobility is beneficial both to businesses looking for staff and to people willing to work abroad.

EURES is 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 tool facilitating labour mobility within the EU. For instance, in 2022, the large majority of countries (24) used 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, in 2022, more job vacancies were published on the EURES website than reported by Eurostat. User satisfaction with the EURES services was also high in 2022, ranging between 7 and 10 points (out of a maximum of 10) in 16 countries.

Access to Finance

The indicator on the availability of venture capital shows that in 2022, it amounted on average to 0.08% of GDP, which is double than in 2019, but slightly lower than in 2021 (0.10%), mostly due to lower volume of later-stage venture investments. This shows an overall positive long-term trend. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) continue to face certain difficulties in access to finance, as signaled by their perception of the availability of public support (20.19%), including guarantees, and by business-to-business payment delays (57 days). These delays are consistently higher than the target of 30 days recommended in the current Late Payment Directive.

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