Impact of European regulations on the internal market

Although most legislation within the European countries is still provided nationally, this does not apply with respect to products in the technological sectors. The conditions for bringing products to market in these sectors and the free movement must be complied with at European level.

The impact of European decisions on companies is substantial and continues to increase. More than 75% of the legal requirements that must be met by products originate at European level.

Drafting legislation

The EU Treaties state how the legislation is drafted and how the decision-making process proceeds. The majority of EU legislation is adopted by way of the so-called standard legislative procedure. The new legislation in this procedure is proposed by the European Commission and adopted by the Parliament and the Council. The European Parliament and the Council examine the proposals from the Commission and can make proposals for change. If the Council and the Parliament disagree with these amendments, a new process is set in motion.

In this so-called second reading, both the Parliament and the Council can again introduce amendments. The proposal is approved once both institutions reach agreement. If the institutions still cannot reach a compromise, the Conciliation Committee tries to find a solution that may or may not be approved in the third and last reading.

The most important types of statutory orders are the regulations and directives. A regulation is a law that is immediately applicable in all member states and remains binding. A regulation does not have to be converted into the national law of the member states. A directive mandates the member states to achieve a specific objective. Directives must be converted into national law in order to become effective.

European internal market

The 'internal market' or 'unified European market' set up in 1992 is currently open to more than 500 million people and 28 member countries. This growth has only been made possible thanks to the removal of the trade barriers and customs controls between member states. A role can also be attributed to the harmonisation or recognition of national laws that had proved to be an obstacle to international trade.

The internal market is not perfect. This includes new national obstacles, interpretation and harmonisation problems, inadequate controls on products being put on the market, etc. It is important to remember that the internal market is also the home market.  It is therefore essential to understand how the European market works.

For companies fully involved in their daily business activities, the European regulations can seem like something that does not concern them. It emerges that there are often insufficient resources for following the sometimes complex procedures covering the decision-making processes over the years, so that it is difficult to assess the future impact on businesses, etc. Organisations such as Agoria provide support in this area by way of distributing information about regulations and also determining viewpoints, making these known and making representations to the Commission and European Parliament.

Source: Agoria Online

Further information: Laurent Hellebaut, Lead Expert EU Team, Agoria