Interview with Eurochambres Single Market Committee Chair, Juho Romakkaniemi
In the interest of the companies the Chambers of Commerce represent, Eurochambres relentlessly advocates for better market access in general and in the European Union in particular. The Covid-19 crisis once again underlined the importance of the four classical freedoms of movement. Only one in four SMEs currently trades within the EU and with our work we try to get these numbers up, to the benefit of all, both companies and their customers.
- What is the main priority of the Single Market Committee for the remainder of 2022?
We are working on many different dossiers at the moment. With agreements reached on some of the big files in the Digital Single Market field, namely the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, our focus is shifting to the Data Act, which is crucial for our data economy. The law-makers absolutely need to get this file right, as our companies are sitting on a wealth of data and it will be a matter of unlocking this new digital gold to the benefit of all.
Also in the digital field, companies are confronted with the chips shortage. The Commission brought forward a European Chips Act to tackle this crisis. I welcome the initiative to dedicate more financial resources to R&D in this field, but would most of all like to emphasize the need to foster better partnerships internationally in order to secure sufficient supply.
I’m also relatively critical about the extensive use of certain crisis response measures. Political overreach will harm the market, innovation, and competitiveness, especially if firms would be forced into accepting production orders based on arbitrary and unpredictable “crisis” criteria.
- How do you regard the Commission’s plan to launch a Single Market Emergency Instrument?
I hear that the initiative is being discussed at the highest level in the Commission for the moment and that some member states have questions about certain aspects, not least about the preparedness pillar. I must say that I share the concerns of these member states. The last thing that we want as chambers is a burdensome instrument that potentially has the power to impose unnecessary and disproportionate demands on companies.
Most of all, we need to avoid measures being taken based on arbitrary grounds. Although I trust the Commission in its ability to make sound economic forecasts, I’m less confident in their ability to predict what the next big crisis will be that jeopardises the integrity of the single market.
What our companies need is reliable information platforms and mechanisms that prevent member states from introducing unfair entry barriers to their territory in times of crisis.
- The pandemic and now the war in Ukraine have had a significant impact on the business community. How do you perceive this in relation to the Single Market?
The economic hardship created by the war in Ukraine compounds the effects of the Covid-19 crisis across Europe, and hence our economy is facing very strong headwinds the like of which we haven’t seen for a long time. Add to this the inflation worries, as well as rising interest rates, and we understand why many companies will have to fight for their survival. The Single Market is a powerful tool to help these businesses; integration efforts have stalled for too long and now is the time to put it back at the heart of the European project.