EU emergency mechanism must guarantee freedom of movement – IRU

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The European Parliament vote will help to preserve the free movement of people and goods in the EU in the event of future emergencies. Restrictions on mobility and logistics services must be avoided at all costs.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), responsible for the legislative oversight and scrutiny of EU rules on the single market, voted today on the European Commission’s proposed Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI).

This comes against the backdrop of the EU’s emergency measures that kept goods flowing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In September 2022, the European Commission proposed the SMEI to ensure that the EU is better equipped to deal with future large-scale crises. The SMEI is designed to ensure trade between Member States and the supply of essential goods and services.

IRU Director EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said, “The European Parliament’s IMCO Committee rightfully recognises the vital function of the free movement of goods and services, especially by road. During COVID-19, it was principally road transport that kept the internal market functioning.

“Any restriction on the free movement of goods and passengers during an emergency must be avoided at all costs. Keeping borders and supply chains open, as well as ensuring the availability of products and services, is of fundamental importance.”

“The Parliament and Council must ensure that the emergency mechanism is efficient and encourages an aligned approach by Member States and the Commission,” she added.

In its general approach reached earlier in June, the Council left some questions unanswered, including regulations to clarify, specify and define many aspects of the SMEI.

Both the Council and IMCO’s positions diverge significantly from the Commission’s original proposal, as they look to retain Council Regulation No (EC) 2679/98 on the functioning of the internal market in relation to the free movement of goods among Member States.

According to both texts, the SMEI will prevail in the case of possible conflicts between that regulation and the proposed SMEI regulation.

“It is to be seen how this coexistence is maintained. This is a positive point in the Council’s position as it also retains an instrument to address smaller scale barriers to the free movement of goods. Of course, in taking this position, the Council and European Parliament should also commit to making Regulation No (EC) 2679/98, commonly referred to as the ‘Strawberry Regulation’, a more efficient instrument than it is today,” said Raluca Marian.

The text adopted today in the European Parliament’s IMCO Committee will now move to a plenary vote in Strasbourg, most likely to take place in September. Trilogue negotiations with the Council will begin shortly after.