The European Commission wants to have tools with which to respond if, again, an emergency turns the single market upside down. For this, it has approved this Monday a proposal for a regulation and another for a directive, which contemplates the legal possibility that the Community Executive can assume special powers when the time comes, indicating to the companies priorities in production, accelerating deliveries in the case of some industries, requiring information or establishing strategic reserves of essential goods. “We need new tools that allow us to react quickly and collectively. So that whenever we face a new crisis, we can ensure that our single market remains open and that vital goods remain available to protect Europeans.” said the vice-president of the Commission, the liberal Margrethe Vestager.
The approach made by the Commission does not cover all economic sectors, since it leaves out those that are already regulated by other regulations for when emergency situations arrive. In other words, the new regulations, once they pass through the filter of the legislative bodies of the European Union (the European Parliament and the Council of the EU), will not affect semiconductors, which are already regulated by the Law on Chips, and medical machines or in question of food safety.
“In the crises of recent years, we have worked hard to preserve the smooth functioning of the single market, keep our borders and supply chains open and ensure the availability of products and services. But we must be better prepared to anticipate and respond to the next crisis. Instead of relying on improvised actions, the SMEI (Single Market Emergency Instrument) will ensure better coordination with Member States, help prevent and limit the impact of a potential crisis on our industry and economy.” added Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton.
This instrument contemplates the creation of two alert situations. The first is the surveillance call, which would be activated by a decision of the European Commission itself and would allow the monitoring of the supply chains of goods and services that are considered to be of strategic importance. The creation of reserves of this type of product is also allowed and, in addition, facilitating public procurement for that. This situation could last for six months and could be maintained or deactivated, although the activation process would be subject to review by the community partners.
The next level, the emergency level, would be reached by a decision of the Council of the EU, that is, by the Member States at the proposal of the European Commission. It would be reached when it became known that the crisis could have a severe impact on the single market. At this point, measures are contemplated such as the restriction of the freedom of movement of people, goods and services within the EU itself, the demand for transparency from the Member States in their information and, when it comes to the last resort, the demand that they prioritize them requests that come to them from the public sector and, if they refuse, justify it with compelling reasons. As in the previous alert level, its duration would be six months and could be extended or not depending on the circumstances.