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 ensure the correct implementation and application of EU law even before the launch of infringement procedures, 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 reap the full benefits of the single market, individuals 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 further progress in implementing and enforcing the Single Market rules.
- Both the average transposition deficit and the average conformity deficit have decreased. The transposition deficit is back on track (0.7%, down from 1.1% last year). The conformity deficit has slightly decreased for the first time in 4 years (1.2%, down from 1.3% last year). Worryingly, some Member States combined high transposition deficit with high conformity deficits; some others have a low transposition deficit but a big number of incorrectly transposed directives. Transposing directives within the transposition deadline is just one aspect of implementation. As highlighted by the specific conformity deficit indicator, it is crucial that the directives are correctly transposed and applied on the ground to be considered as fully implemented.
- After steadily increasing for 3 years (2017-2020) and strongly decreasing in 2021 and 2022 (-15%), the number of pending Single Market infringement cases has broadly stabilised (699 cases, -2%). However, the duration of infringement cases continues to be an issue (49 months, far from the 36-month duration indicative target). The Commission remains committed to keep working with all Member States to support and promote an ambitious implementation of Single Market rules. In parallel, it will continue to pursue a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure that jointly agreed EU rules are correctly applied by all Member States.
- The figures for 2023 (reference period of January to November 2023) show a relatively stable use of the EU Pilot dialogue, focusing mainly on topics related to the single European sky, security of supply, energy efficiency, indirect taxation and securities in investment funds.
- The Commission used the EU Pilot dialogue to efficiently check and clarify transposition issues, gather additional factual or legal information from Member States and remind them of notification and reporting obligations.
- With 80% of cases closed after having received satisfactory answers from the Member States concerned, the resolution rate is higher than the 2022 level (74%). The policy areas with the most EU Pilot cases proposed for formal infringement procedures are climate action (6 cases), financial services and anti-money laundering (6 cases) and mobility and transport (3 cases).
Internal Market Information System (IMI)
- More than 597 550 information exchanges have been sent through IMI since its launch in 2008. Use of the system increases steadily year on year.
- IMI supported 95 cross-border procedures in 19 legal areas, replacing the need for at least 19 different IT systems.
- The overall performance of the IMI users in 2023 slightly improved compared to 2022, in particular the average percentage of requests accepted within 1 week and the speed in answering requests.
- 24 countries had an above-average aggregated performance for all counted indicators, 5 had an average performance and 1 country was below average. 5 countries were above the average performance threshold for all indicators.
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 18 707 draft notifications since 1998.
- In the 2023 reporting period, 810 draft technical regulations were notified to the Commission by EU Member States, EEA countries, Switzerland and Türkiye. Of these, Member States withdrew 38 notifications, which did not require further follow-up.
- Regarding these notifications the Commission issued 21 detailed opinions and 89 comments. Member States issued 48 comments and 13 detailed opinions.
- For yet another year, the SOLVIT network has shown its ability to help businesses, people and public authorities enjoy the benefits of the single market. It dealt with about 2400 cases and solved about 85% of them.
- SOLVIT continued to further deepen the cooperation with other European networks and organisations, such as the Enterprise Europe Network and the European Labour Authority. SOLVIT also received new cases linked to the principle of mutual recognition of goods lawfully marketed in another Member State.
- Revamping the SOLVIT database (SOLVIT IMI application) was a priority in the reporting period. Besides facilitating better case handling, another major part of the rework is creating a repository of identified systemic issues (structural and recurrent cases detected via SOLVIT cases).This will ensure easier access to and overview of systemic issues allowing for more efficient reporting to policy makers. In addition, efforts were made to improve the visualisation of SOLVIT data.
- In March 2023, the Commission proposed to set a new target for the EU countries to solve 90% of the cases through their SOLVIT centre within 12 months. The results of the reporting period are published in this Scoreboard.