24 April 2024

Charting a course for industrial growth: Letta’s Single Market vision is a roadmap

Ceemet broadly welcomes the long-awaited High-Level Report on the Future of the Single Market, authored by Enrico Letta, and presented at the special European Council meeting in Brussels on 17 and 18 April. The insights in the report are a call to action to EU institutions and stakeholders, in the context of a much-changed geopolitical situation, which continues to evolve.

The report, while acknowledging the strides made within the Single Market in recent decades, identifies numerous barriers that hinder its optimal functioning. MET employers are conscious of these obstacles, as they navigate them on a daily basis. Companies are also acutely aware of other challenges raised in the report such as international competitiveness, regulatory burden, and inadequate investment.

While Ceemet might not agree with all the content of the report, the general thrust of a single market which is overregulated, and underperforming, is one that is shared by MET employers. The overarching sentiment that the Single Market is in need of significant reform is one which we welcome. Mr Letta rightly highlights the phenomenon of gold-plating and overlapping regulations as trends which are creating legal uncertainty and imposing substantial compliance costs. These costs are stifling European industry and putting us at a disadvantage with regard to our international competitors. Of particular concern are the challenges faced by SMEs, which often bear the brunt of regulatory burdens and compliance costs. The report underscores the disproportionate impact on SMEs, further emphasising the urgency for reform.

The report rightly points out that at the heart of the European social model, launched by Jacques Delors with the Val Duchesse dialogue in 1985, was a commitment to robust social dialogue. Mr Letta suggests that the role played by social partners must gain importance if we are to be effective in supporting business and providing quality jobs. Furthermore, the rules governing the Single Market must leave room for collective bargaining. When facing the current challenges, such as climate change and digitalisation, it is essential to recognise the role of social partners in this respect.

Where we differ in opinion with Mr Letta is in relation to the call for ‘binding rules’ on mental health and the risks associated with climate change. Furthermore, the broad call for strengthening the social dimension of the Single Market needs to be discussed in the context of avoiding regulatory burden and ensuring competitiveness.

In light of these findings, Ceemet echoes Mr Letta’s call to action, emphasising that it is not too late to reverse the tide of over-regulation. However, in order to succeed, decisive action must be taken promptly to unlock the Single Market’s full potential and ensure Europe’s competitiveness in the global economy.

Europe, this is your wake-up call!