Committee guide | IMCO : Single market 'key' to boosting EU growth

Vicky Ford explains to the Parliament Magazine why 'better regulation does not always mean more regulation'.

By Desmond Hinton-Beales

16 Oct 2014

For Vicky Ford the stakes could not be higher. "A well-run single market" she says, "can be the key to unlocking prosperity, innovation and greater competitiveness in Europe, which will benefit businesses and consumers. Misdirected, it can stifle entrepreneurship and create a clipboard culture in business." As chair of parliament's internal market and consumer protection (IMCO) committee, Ford is committed to "bringing down internal barriers to trade in goods and services". "The single market is meant to help people trade easily across 28 countries and sell to more than 500 million consumers," she stresses; "it is not meant to add more red tape, costs and bureaucracy."

"The single market is meant to help people trade easily across 28 countries and sell to more than 500 million consumers it is not meant to add more red tape, costs and bureaucracy"

An MEP since 2009, Ford previously sat on parliament's special committee on the financial, economic and social crisis, and for her the path is clear; "We must continue focusing on jobs and growth." The ECR deputy says that IMCO has "already started to look at what specific actions could be taken in the single market for goods and services to help boost European growth". As an example, she cites her committee's new responsibilities regarding the "digital single market". "Increased eCommerce can bring many billions in savings for European consumers, but this needs improvements in many fields such as logistics, ease of establishment, online consumer rights, copyright, payments systems, network security and data issues." Luckily there are "many experts in these areas in IMCO and in other committees across the parliament", she says, adding that cross committee collaboration in this area will be vital.

Ford intends to continue the good work already undertaken in the previous legislature which she says has resulted in IMCO forming a "reputation as an open and transparent committee focused on smart regulation, scrutinising impact assessments and ensuring that all proposals are not only subject to both ex-ante and ex-post impact and review, but that business and consumers are always consulted on possible burdens of EU rules. This is fundamental for better policy making," she stresses.

Looking to her personal priorities, Ford says, "The services sector has been identified as area where there could be significant economic benefits from taking an increased single market approach. I think that we need to be more specific about which service sectors are targeted and what actions are needed." She also underlines consumer confidence as being "key to delivering growth", stressing the "importance of keeping a focus on consumer protection". "However," she warns, "in this area as in many others there are often different approaches in member states and a one size fits all solution is not always best."

"Better regulation is crucial to enhancing competitiveness," says the British MEP. "We need to take real actions to reduce red tape and overlapping legislation. I will be keeping a close eye on the commission's work on the regulatory fitness and performance programme of EU legislation." Ford also highlights the importance of parliament's working relationship with the council, saying that, "As a result of the European elections, national leaders have asked that the single market be more strongly grounded in the principles of conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality." Europe's leaders, she says, "also want to look again at the relationship between the national governments and the EU". For Ford, it was important for there to be a greater focus on the "implementation of existing legislation and the encouragement of better sharing of best practice between member states".

"As a result of the European elections, national leaders have asked that the single market be more strongly grounded in the principles of conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality"

As regards IMCO's working relationship with the EU's executive arm, Ford says she is awaiting commission president-elect "Jean-Claude Juncker's ideas within the proposed 'jobs, growth and investment package' and the 'ambitious legislative steps towards a connected digital single market' promised within the first few months of the new commission to see what direction he intends to take". Ford feels that "new structure of the commission bodes well in this regard", adding that the "addition of two vice presidents, one with responsibility for the digital single market and one overseeing better regulation may help to underpin the cross cutting importance of both these issues".

"Too often in the past," says Ford, "the 28 commissioners maintained a 'silo approach'. Individual commissioners proposed legislation even if not was not always required. As a result we have many overlapping rules and regulations – the manufacture of an iPad involves over 20 directives alone – which businesses frequently point to as being overly burdensome and unnecessary. In this regard, the incoming commissioner on better regulation, inter-institutional relations, the rule of law and the charter of fundamental rights Frans Timmermans' role is of special relevance. In my view better regulation does not always mean more regulation, I hope he agrees."

Vicky Ford is chair of parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee

 

Read the most recent articles written by Desmond Hinton-Beales - EU parliament environment committee backs ambitious air quality legislation

Categories

Industry & Finance
Share this page