In this forum, the European Commission and EU country authorities discuss the most pressing single market barriers needing to be addressed and ensure the proper functioning of the single market, including by better coordinating national responses to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Single Market Enforcement Task Force (SMET) was set up by the Action plan for better implementation and enforcement of single market rules adopted in March 2020 as part of the European industrial strategy.
As a high-level forum where the Commission and EU countries work together, SMET is best placed to identify how to deal with barriers, jointly devise and implement solutions, ensure a consistent approach and act rapidly.
SMET’s objective is to facilitate the smooth functioning of the single market. The task force's guiding principle is its focus on the single market
- identifying barriers and developing and implementing solutions across the different streams of the single market
- complementing the work done in the various sectorial working groups by bringing a single-market focused perspective
- streamlining the work to remove different barriers affecting the single market
By fostering a constructive dialogue and cooperation, in equal partnership between the Commission and EU country authorities, SMET allows its members to work together with joint responsibility for the deliverables.
SMET will regularly inform the Competitiveness Council and the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on the progress made.
Members of the Single Market Enforcement Taskforce
SMET is composed of EU countries and of the Commission. EU countries have nominated a SMET contact point from the competent national authorities with direct responsibility for single market issues, in the majority of the cases the ministries for economic affairs.
SMET meeting March 2023
On 14 March, the Single Market Enforcement Taskforce (SMET) met for its first physical meeting in Brussels since COVID-19. The meeting was chaired by the Director General of DG GROW Kerstin Jorna, and Ambassador Daniel Bockert from the Swedish Presidency of the European Council.
The first part focused on the state of play of current projects. Kerstin emphasised that SMET needs to walk the talk and make more progress on removing barriers to projects like
- administrative requirements for cross-border service providers
- streamlining permitting procedures for renewable energy projects
- two professional qualifications projects
With 41.3% of the initially listed prior checks removed, the project on prior checks for professionals is close to its objective of 50%. It was agreed to go for one last push to reach that goal. SMET members also briefly discussed the need for more transparency on its work and the results achieved.
Representatives of EU countries shared their experience on the internal challenges they face when trying to remove single market barriers. Some solutions were presented by Austria, Italy and Germany. The main message was the need for more political backing and visibility through the Competitiveness Council (COMPET). It is important that ministers are briefed on progress on removing barriers, but they should also decide on which other barriers they wish to remove. Ideally, this would be agreed during the COMPET Council in March.
Stakeholders presented permitting barriers they encounter in practice and proposed some solutions. EDP Renewables, Iberdrola and Lightsource BP detailed their experience with permitting for renewable energy projects. This included lengthy deployment processes (up to 7 years), the need to contact up to 30 authorities, burdensome procedures, a lack of clear deadlines to expect answering from various authorities, and unclear spatial planning requirements.
The solutions they suggested were in line with those discussed earlier:
- a one-stop shop
- positive silence
Siemens Gamesa and Bay Wa.re. then presented skills challenges in this sector and the need to support the mobility of workers and specialists within the EU.
The meeting concluded with a discussion on the way forward. EU countries put forward several proposals, mainly in the areas of
- packaging and labelling requirements
- digitalisation (in line with the sustainable development goals)
- mutual recognition
- translation requirements
Denmark also proposed a project on the approval process of BioSolutions. This would involve adopting fast-track approval procedures for innovative, low-risk biological and sustainability-enabling pesticides.
Steering for the future
Kerstin invited stakeholders to provide a list of the most important professions by April, which will serve as a basis for further actions to facilitate availability and skills mobility in these jobs. SMET members are invited to analyse how the proposals discussed with the stakeholders can further support progress on the objectives outlined in the Single Market at 30 and Competitiveness communications. These documents are also a good basis for reflecting on which priorities should be on SMET’s agenda in future.
SMET meeting September 2022
On 23 September 2022 the Single Market Enforcement taskforce met to discuss the possible steps that can be taken to streamline the administrative requirements for cross-border service providers. Services play an ever more important role in the European economy, and are critical for the green and digital transition. Improving the functioning of the Single Market for services is thus of the utmost importance.
At the SMET meeting Kerstin Jorna, DG-GROW and Joost Korte, DG-EMPL, spoke about both the importance of the freedom to provide services and to protect the labor rights of posted workers. They presented concrete steps that could be taken by Member States to reduce the administrative burden for cross-border service providers significantly. SMET members agreed to further discuss the possible next steps at the technical level.
SMET meeting June 2022
On 20 June 2022 the task force met in person in Paris. The main point on the agenda was the agreement between the Commission and Member States on the procedural barriers that developers face when deploying renewable energy projects. SMET member further agreed on a timeline to tackle the agreed upon barriers. SMET members further shared best practices on how they work on behalf of the Single Market in their capital.
SMET meeting March 2022
On 22 March 2022 the task force discussed how to address concrete barriers to the deployment of renewable energy technologies in the EU. Lengthy and complex permitting procedures for the deployment of renewable energy installations are a major barrier to the growth of the renewable energy industries ecosystem. SMET members agreed to tackle burdensome procedural and bureaucratic permitting barriers.
SMET meeting December 2021
On 17 December 2021, the task force discussed and agreed on the next set of priorities: barriers related to the complexity of administrative procedures and the lack of harmonised digital cross-border procedures; burdensome permit requirements for wind and solar energy installations; diverging national requirements for labelling on packaging/products in relation to waste sorting rules; and barriers when providing cross-border services in the mobility-automotive ecosystem.
SMET meeting October 2021
On 13 October 2021, the task force looked together at the progress in each specific area of work and agreed to continue removing identified barriers. SMET members also exchanged preliminary ideas on future priority areas.
SMET meeting July 2021
On 12 July 2021, the task force discussed progress on the work of removing some of the most pressing and long-standing barriers in the single market to ensure its proper functioning in supporting recovery and the digital and green transitions. The task force will report to the Competitiveness Council in the second half of the year.
SMET meeting May 2021
On 11 May 2021, the task force discussed the first steps taken to remove obstacles in the area of cross-border restrictions for professionals and to prevent discriminatory practices in the agri-food sector, including by means of various possibilities to support farmers and short supply chains in line with EU rules. The meeting was also an opportunity for the Commission to present the recently adopted EU industrial strategy update to the task force members.
SMET meeting February 2021
On 19 February 2021, the Commission called an emergency meeting in the context of travel restrictions and newly introduced controls of internal borders that EU members put in place to deal with the increasingly difficult epidemiological situation. The Commission highlighted the need for EU countries to ensure that the newly introduced measures do not harm the single market more than is strictly necessary.
SMET meeting January 2021
On 29 January 2021, the Commission proposed five pilot projects concerning: the elimination of the remaining COVID-19 related barriers in the agri-food sector, the posting of workers, certification in construction, and the free movement of professional services. SMET concluded that the barriers presented and discussed should be addressed as priority.
Read more: Commission and EU countries meet to address COVID-19 restrictions and protect the functioning of the single market
SMET meeting September 2020
On 21 September 2020, the discussion focused on actions to tackle some of the top barriers identified in the Single Market Barriers Report, matching those raised by SMET members in previous meetings.
SMET meeting June 2020
On 9 June 2020, the Commission invited SMET members to identify the most important single market barriers. Barriers linked to services, obstacles to the free movement of goods, the need to improve existing problem-solving tools for business and fragmentation of EU legislation were flagged.
SMET meeting April 2020
On 7 April 2020 the Commission convened the first meeting to discuss how to better coordinate national responses to the Coronavirus outbreak, ensure the good functioning of the single market and allow the free flow of goods across European borders.
Read more: Coronavirus - European Commission kick-starts the work of the new Single Market Enforcement Task Force to remove restrictions to the single market
Project info will be posted here.
SMET secretariat: GROW-SMET-SECRETARIAT@ec.europa.eu