The traffic light chart on governance tools below shows how countries have performed as regards those tools that have been monitored by means of selected indicators in each area.
Two more traffic light charts further below follow the same concept but show how countries performed in key single market policy areas,trade integration and market openness. Currently, they only feature a very limited number of areas, but the aim is to increase this number in the coming years.
The charts not only highlight where performance is above average (green), average (yellow) and below average (red), but also show at a glance the areas where countries are doing well and where more effort is needed.
For more on calculation methods and single indicators, see the thematic pages for each area.
Performance per governance tool
A steady increase of information, advice and problem-solving services to the public and businesses
- In 2020, Your Europe attracted nearly 33 million visits, dropping slightly after several consecutive years of growth. The primary cause: pandemic travel restrictions that kept Europeans at home and led to 12% fewer visits to one of our most popular sections, “Travel”.
Meanwhile, pages in other sections saw increased visits, e.g. “product requirements” for businesses (+7%), underscoring the Your Europe portal’s function in highlighting the public’s concerns and questions.
December 2020 marked the official launch of the single digital gateway, which will give a legal underpinning to the Your Europe ethos – providing practical, multilingual information online to the public and businesses – and will require countries to take steps in that same direction.
- Your Europe Advice plays an important role in identifying those areas of the single market where progress is needed. It informs people about their rights in the EU, as well as provides the European Commission with important information about areas where the single market is not operating as well as it should.
- The overall SOLVIT caseload increased by 11% since 2019, with 2633 cases. The main problem areas are:
- social security (including labour mobility)
- free movement of people
- recognition of professional qualifications
- tax-free movement of goods and services.
More action is needed to attract more business cases (5%). SOLVIT helps companies and the public in times of single market disruption such as the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. When striving for recovery, more businesses should use SOLVIT’s services.
In line with the September 2020 Competitiveness Council, SOLVIT can only have a positive impact on individuals and businesses if EEA countries and the Commission prioritise the network. This requires political commitment from countries by means of providing adequate resources to the SOLVIT centres and ensuring sufficient authority and cooperation within the national administration.
- The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) received 168 000 consumer queries in 2020 (up from 120 000 in 2019), with over 60 000 requests related to COVID-19, especially regarding travel/transport and online shopping.
Expanding administrative cooperation between and with EEA countries
- Technical Regulation Information System (TRIS): The Single Market Transparency Directive has been implemented successfully, with over 16 254 draft notifications since 1998. In 2020, 895 draft technical regulations were notified to the Commission by EEA countries, Switzerland and Turkey, via the TRIS.
- The Internal Market Information (IMI) system has further expanded to ensure administrative cooperation in 17 policy and legal areas, effectively replacing the need for at least 17 different IT systems. The system’s use has increased by 47% and provides support to public authorities within the EEA for 67 cross-border administrative procedures.
As of 2020, the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) network and the European Judicial Network (EJN) have been using IMI in civil and commercial matters helping to further rationalise IT tools provided by the Commission. EEA countries overall have increased their use of IMI, which is remarkable particularly in the context of the overall increase in the volumes of exchanges.
- CPC: On consumer protection, the COVID-19 health and sanitary crisis tested the resilience of the digital single market and the EU CPC network’s ability to react quickly to emerging threats.
The Commission coordinated the dialogue with major online platforms effectively, resulting in the taking down of hundreds of millions of rogue listings and advertisements on products in high demand due to the pandemic. In 2020, the number of alerts exchanged in the new CPC-IMI database more than tripled.
Delay in implementing the single market rules
- The average transposition deficit has significantly increased to 1% while the EU average conformity deficit has never been as high as in 2020, namely at 1.4% (proposed target 0.5%).
The average transposition delay decreased by 36% and is now 7.4 months. Since December 2019, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia and France have improved their overall transposition performance while 8 other countries managed to maintain theirs (Greece, Spain, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Finland). The performance of the remaining 14 Member States has deteriorated.
- In 2020, the EU Pilot dialogue was used more frequently, as more cases were opened than in 2019. Environment was the policy area with the highest number of new cases. Fewer cases were processed, due in particular to some disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis in the first half of the year. Although the resolution rate dropped, over half of all cases have been resolved at this informal stage, without the need to further launch an infringement procedure.
- Single market-related infringements further rose to 837 pending cases (+5%), one of its highest levels over the past 10 years. This increasing trend should be flattened by the EU Pilot dialogue being used more systematically as announced in Action 21 of the March 2020 long-term action plan on better implementing and enforcing single market rules.
Spain has the highest number of pending cases – 58 (almost double the EU average).
The sectors with most single market-related infringement cases are environment (30%), transport (21%) and services including the free movement of professionals (13%). The average case duration is now 37.3 months, up from 34.8 months 1 year ago.
Performance per policy area
* Public procurement composite indicator does not capture all aspects of national public procurement, and thus gives only a partial view of member states’ performance.
Business and industry needs
- SMEs business environment
The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on EU SMEs in 2020:
- the number of SMEs fell by 1.3%
- SME employment fell by 1.7% (representing 1.4 million jobs lost)
- value added in SMEs fell by 7.6%.
Strong public support has so far moderated the surge in SME bankruptcies effectively and kept companies in business, but SMEs are unlikely to reach pre-crisis levels even by the end of 2021.
- Greening of the industry
Despite some improvement recently, the EU economy still mainly uses primary raw materials, while secondary materials represent only 12% of the overall material demand. Committed to becoming more circular, the Commission aims to double this share (i.e. the circular material use rate) by 2030.
Thanks to efforts in applying best available technologies, there has been a big improvement in terms of the manufacturing sector’s air emissions intensity. Eco-innovation is an important driver for boosting green industrialisation and shows a steady improvement in the EU. Almost 1900 Ecolabel licenses have been awarded for more than 78 000 products (goods and services) in the EU market. The number of licences and products has increased for most EU Ecolabel product groups. This demonstrates a real interest for more eco-friendly products in the marketplace.
The use of the eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) has increased in the EU: In 2020, there were 3 838 organisations and 12 751 sites, and some countries greatly increased their use of EMAS during the year. Waste collection, treatment and disposal activities is the most important leading sector.
- Public procurement systems are performing at very different levels across the single market.
Competition in the bidding process remains a key issue. The most significant indicator – the proportion of contracts awarded when there was just one bidder – shows that nearly three quarters of countries are underperforming.
- eCertis is an online mapping system providing a list of the eligibility criteria and documentary evidence needed in each EEA country to take part in public procurement. The system contains a total of 2 095 records (criteria, items of evidence, and issuing bodies). Some 281 issuing bodies are registered in the system.
The Commission continues to recommend that countries constantly update and improve their contribution to the platform, as improvement is needed in how documentary evidence is provided.
More efficient consumer protection
- Market surveillance: Cooperation among national authorities is crucial for:
- detecting the products which don’t comply with the applicable legislation
- acting appropriately.
For this purpose, the European Commission offers the countries a comprehensive cooperation platform – the Information and Communication System for Market Surveillance (ICSMS). Therefore, the national authorities can exchange information on non-compliant products (e.g. tests results, information on accidents, measures taken) and coordinate their actions more efficiently.
The significant number of detected cases of non-compliance (as a percentage of the total number of checks) shows that thanks to this tool and their closer cooperation, national authorities are able to better target their checks towards cases with a higher probability to detect non-compliances.
- On postal services, public letter prices are increasing over time both for cross border and domestic post.
Free movement of professionals needs to be further improved
- Professional qualifications: Free movement of professionals – a cornerstone of the single market – still needs to be further improved despite the progress made. Rules on access to professions vary across countries and can create barriers to cross-border mobility. The Professional Qualifications Directive is designed to mitigate these obstacles by providing clear rules on recognising professional qualifications.
Between 2017 and 2019 (last available data), more than 131 000 positive recognition decisions were taken by EEA countries. This significant figure indicates that the European system of mutual recognition operates relatively well. However, it would benefit from further improvements in national regulatory environments and administrative procedures.
Additional support to jobseekers
- In 2019 (reference year), the EURES Network published around 20.3 million job vacancies and helped 83 360 people find work. The overall performance of the Network has substantially increased, with 29 out of 32 EURES countries providing complete (or almost complete) data for the indicators required under the EU rules establishing the EURES Performance Measurement System.
Integration and market openness
Foreign direct investment unevenly distributed across EU Member States
- Overall, data for 2019 show that foreign direct investment (FDI) is unevenly distributed across EU Member States.
Some small countries exhibit very high stocks of both intra-EU and extra-EU FDI.
However, certain large western European economies have comparatively lower figures, and most eastern European countries lie in the lower part of the scale regarding distribution of FDI stocks.
Trade integration continues to be significantly higher in goods than in services
- In 2019, there were moderate changes in trade integration in the EU. Intra-EU trade in services increased slightly in most Member States, while trade in goods slightly decreased.
While integration in services fell in just 6 countries, integration in goods fell in 23 countries. However, these changes were modest. In some sectors, weak competition and disproportionate regulatory restrictions are preventing consumers and firms from harnessing the full benefits of integration into the single market.
Click on a green, yellow or red square (representing a country’s performance regarding a particular tool or area), and you will be directed to a country sheet for the country concerned. This explains in brief why the country has been rated green, yellow or red for each single market tool.
Also, click on Performance per Member State to access the country sheets.