On February 22 the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament discussed Lara Comi's draft report on the Single Market Strategy.
Lara Comi (EPP, IT) introduced the key points of her draft Report, which concentrates on the Single Market’s potential, jobs, and SMEs:
- On SMEs and start-ups, Ms Comi said it is important that their innovation capacity be supported in any way possible, since it represents the leading factor of growth generation. Nevertheless, she stressed that not only new companies can innovate, but also existing ones, such as the manufacturing industry. What is needed, she said, is a common definition of SME, innovative start-up, and objective identification criteria;
- Ms Comi referenced President Juncker, recalling his speeches on a Fiscal Union to obtain a Political Union. She sees the introduction of a Single Tax on electronics as a first step towards this, levied from a uniformed VAT. She emphasised that she is convinced of the resistance posed by different fiscal regimes in different Member States, yet she urged her colleagues to not be afraid;
- Another priority is that of facilitating dialogues between national SME and industrial representatives, stating that there is no communication between them;
- While the Late Payment Directive was a step in the good direction, answering the calls from both the economic actors and citizens, Ms Comi lamented the fact that it is either not applied or badly applied, and recollected that only in Italy around 5000 firms have closed due to credits, and not debts. She thus suggests a compensation mechanism between credits and tax;
- The MEP believes that the EU should intervene to help those entrepreneurs who have failed for reasons that are not connected to the entrepreneurs’ capacities;
- The introduction of European Standards, particularly important for TTIP talks, with particular emphasis on the principle of reciprocity;
- Ms Comi welcomed the European Patent and urged the European Commission to apply pressure so that all Member States speed up adoption;
- Market Surveillance and Geographic Indications are seen as fundamental to give back trust to citizens;
- She said she is in favour of a Service Passport, so long as it proves its added value and does not simply add another layer of administrative obstacles;
- On sharing economy, the Rapporteur believes it could give a push to jobs and growth, but it is equally important to have a clear and shared definition of it. On this note she proposed the principle of ‘same rules for same services’. She further added before concluding that the issue of geoblocking and cost discrimination are also factors that need to be tackled.
Marco Zullo (EFDD, IT) noted that from his experience in the European Parliament an inertia by Member States in the application of Single Market legislation does represent an obstacle to the full realisation of the Single Market. Nevertheless, he stated that the Committee must pay attention to the overall design in order to avoid contradictions. What the EFDD Group wants is to assure SMEs are competing on equal footing, particularly regarding credit and taxation, although they defer finding solutions to a later discussion. Mr Zullo declared himself against statements by previous MEPs regarding Geographic Indicators, stating that they are linked to the culture, quality and history of the product, which is an added value for both consumer and producer. He continued saying that Europe should seek to use its diversity and not uniform at all cost. Regarding the sharing economy, the EFDD MEP said that it is a phenomenon that will present itself more and more frequently, and as such legislation needs to be flexible enough to adapt quickly.