The future of EU internal market settled in Vilnius
Today, 18 April, an informal meeting of the EU Economy Ministers is hosted in Vilnius aimed to step up the pace of reforms required to promote growth at the EU level. Common priorities, to be communicated to the Commission and later presented to the EU Economy Ministers at the Competitiveness Council in May, will be agreed at the informal meeting.
“It is the integrated economic and financial market of Europe that will help achieve ambitious objectives and compete with the rapidly growing markets of Asia and America, “– said Prime Minister of Lithuania Andrius Kubilius.
According to Rimantas Žylius, Minister of Economy, the fact that this meeting is being held in Vilnius means that Lithuania is recognised an active player in addressing common matters at the EU level.
The like-minded group has brought together the stakeholders concerned from the Member States that seek to implement targeted internal policy EU-wide. This is the third meeting of high level officials from 16 EU Member States aimed to discuss the issues of the internal market.
“We often hear say that the decisions at the EU level are proposed and adopted by the bureaucrats in Brussels who in fact have no clear idea of what the needs and interests of the Member States are. This meeting, however, is a good example of how a country like Lithuania with its relatively short membership may play an active role in the EU policy shaping, “– Minister Žylius said.
In Vilnius, the discussions at the Ministers’ meeting will be aimed to agree on major instruments to be implemented to improve functioning of the EU internal market, remove obstacle for the development of business and promote growth and job creation. In some Member States, there are persistent delays as well as unfinished issues relating to full implementation of the Services Directive and operation of Points of Single Contacts through which businesses can obtain information and complete the necessary administrative procedures. Hence, discussions will be held on how to address these problems and stimulate growth of the services sector.
The Digital Single Market, and in particular e-commerce, is another area with a lot of untapped economic potential. There are still cases where the Lithuanian consumers cannot enjoy the full benefits of the EU internal market, when an online shop in another Member State sells no goods to consumers in Lithuania or consumer identification or settlement issues remain unsettled. All these issues important in everyday life of each EU citizen will be addressed at the like-minded Ministers’ meeting.
Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in the United Kingdom, Stefan Kapferer, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology in Germany and high level officials from other EU Member States in charge of economic, innovation, industry and trade-related issues have come to Vilnius to discuss the prospective of the EU internal market.
The first meeting of the like-minded group was held in London in July 2011 and was followed by the second meeting in Stockholm in November 2011; the third meeting is hosted in Vilnius on the initiative and invitation of Minister of Economy of Lithuania Rimantas Žylius.
The informal like-minded group includes Sweden, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Finland, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Ireland, Romania, Malta, Slovakia, Denmark, Latvia, Germany, Estonia and the Netherlands.