Single Market Emergency Instrument: Council adopts its negotiating position

Today, the Council adopted its negotiating position on the proposed Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI). The SMEI is intended to anticipate, prepare for and respond to the impacts of crises. It builds on lessons learnt from recent emergencies by continuously monitoring potential future crises, by entering vigilance or emergency modes whenever a threat becomes clear and by putting in place a governance architecture that enables member states to coordinate decision-making.

Being prepared for the next emergency

While the COVID-19 pandemic showed that the Single Market was a key tool for coping with and recovering from a crisis, it also revealed some structural shortcomings that prevented better coordinated action. In fact, unilateral measures taken by Member States caused fragmentation and worsened situations, particularly for SMEs. The Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI), proposed by the Commission on 19 September, aims to address those shortcomings by creating a well-balanced crisis management framework that can identify different threats to the Single Market. In practical terms, the Commission text proposes:

  • Creating a crisis-governance architecture for the Single Market (with a monitoring mechanism to identify threats) with an ‘advisory group’ (Commission and Member States) to assess a given situation and recommend response measures
  • Proposing new actions to address threats to the Single Market, with two level of response (vigilance and emergency modes)
  • Allowing last-resort measures in an emergency, which would include targeted information requests to economic operators; priority-rated orders for crisis-relevant products; a fast-track procedure to bring certain products onto the market and the derogation of product-specific rules
Council’s mandate

While the Council welcomes the general objectives of the regulation, it proposes a number of amendments to improve the clarity, feasibility, and legal certainty of the proposal. In particular, the Council position:

  • Clarifies the main objective, which is to prevent divergent measures that could distort the functioning of the Single Market in a crisis, as well as the relationships with other crisis-relevant instruments.
  • Turns the ‘advisory group’ into a ‘Single Market Emergency Board’, with a strengthened role during the vigilance and emergency modes.
  • Removes the Commission’s power to oblige Member States to build up strategic reserves and to ask companies to prioritise the production of crisis-relevant goods
  • Encourages information-sharing among Member States to better anticipate future crises, while treating this information confidentially
  • Reinforces the role of the Council in activating, extending and deactivating the vigilance mode through the adoption of a Council implementing act, and in activating and adopting the list of crisis-relevant goods and services through the adoption of a Council implementing act during the emergency mode
  • Stipulates which national measures restricting the free movement of goods, services and people must not be taken during the emergency mode
  • Removes obligations on Member States to notify national restricting measures to the Commission, as well as the Commission’s coercive powers, in order not to interfere with existing notification systems
  • Limits crisis-relevant goods and services to those listed in the Council implementing act activating the single market emergency mode
  • Clarifies the procedure for the public procurement of crisis-relevant goods and services that the Commission can carry out on behalf of member states, in order to comply with the financial regulation
  • Sets a timeline for the entry into force of the different provisions of the regulation

Article Source

About the Mediterranean Observer

The Mediterranean Observer is a news portal dedicated to travel tourism, and hospitality in the Mediterranean region. This portal is managed by the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation, based in the Mediterranean country of Malta.