At least a third of the 12 proposals aimed at deepening the single market unveiled by the European Commission last year will miss their end-of-year deadline, national ministers are to be told next week. An internal paper sent to member-state ambassadors on Monday (1 October) asserts that four of the proposals in the Commission's Single Market Act action plan will not be concluded by the target date of December 2012.
The paper was sent just two days before the Commission launched a second wave of 12 single market proposals yesterday (3 October). The missed deadlines are particularly significant because member states had previously emphasised the importance of the legislation in helping to revive the economy.
Ahead of a competitiveness council meeting on 16-17 October, industry ministers are urged in the paper – sent on behalf of officials from the Council of Ministers and from Cyprus – to provide “further political impetus” to the proposals and work out ways to speed up the process towards adoption. Only one proposal in the Commission's April 2011 roadmap has been adopted: new rules on standardisation. Ministers will be told that initiatives relating to the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, public procurement, e-signatures, and the posting of workers are expected to miss their end-of-year deadline.
Among six proposals which, officials believe, can be agreed by the end of the year is the issue of the unitary EU patent, which is currently the subject of difficult negotiations between the European Parliament and Council. MEPs are unhappy that member states want to limit the power of the European Court of Justice to rule on patent disputes. The Parliament's legal affairs committee will debate the problems on Wednesday (10 October).
Proposals relating to alternative and online dispute resolution, accounting, venture capital and social entrepreneurship funds, and trans-European energy networks are on track to be approved by the end of the year, officials say.
The competitiveness council, which meets in Luxembourg, will also hold a debate on industrial policy, in the wake of a plan to be announced on Wednesday by Antonio Tajani, the European commissioner for industry. His update will set out ways to strengthen industrial competitiveness, stimulate investment, enable companies in the EU to derive maximum benefit from the single market, help small businesses gain access to finance, and improve the match of people's skills to industry's needs. The ministers' debate will focus on the construction and creative sectors.
Ministers will also try to reach agreement on two pieces of legislation in the area of research: to revise the organisation of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT); and to lay down rules for Horizon 2020, the EU's 2014-20 research and innovation programme. The latter is likely to be subject of disagreement over different salary levels of scientists in different member states.