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Debrief: ‘Protectionism within the European Union and how to tackle it’

 Warsaw, 5th February, 2021


Debrief: ‘Protectionism within the European Union and how to tackle it’


The single market is one of the greatest achievements of the European Union. Nevertheless, independent studies conducted by the European Commission and the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers show that protectionism is a serious problem affecting the majority of entrepreneurs and hindering the development of the single market. Elimination of existing barriers could attract an additional €17 billion of investment per year and generate another 1.3 million jobs – keys to restoring the competitiveness of the European economy in the aftermath of the pandemic. Both studies show administrative practices (i.e. requirement to present additional certificates) rank as top protectionist measures. While most of them can be addressed through prohibitions established under the EU law, the current legal framework seems insufficient to cope with all the problems of the single market. During the webinar, distinguished panelists brainstormed solutions on improving the quality of the internal market.

The discussion which took place on 5 February 2021 via ZOOM, gathered Mr. Horst Heitz, the Chair of the Steering Committee of the SME Connect as well as 3 members of the European Economic and Social Committee – Ms. Jana Hartman Radová, the Head of Brussels Office of Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, Mr. Marcin Nowacki, the President of the European Enterprise Alliance and Mr. Tomasz Wróblewski, the President of the Warsaw Enterprise Institute.

Research conducted with the participation of over 1150 entrepreneurs from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia has shown that almost 40% of the surveyed companies have experienced encountered protectionist measures within the European Union. Administrative burdens as well as the requirement to present additional documents (certificates, attestations etc.) are some of the most common practices encountered.

Most of these practices can be addressed through a wide range of restrictions contained in the European law as well as the rich jurisprudence of CJEU. However, the current legal framework does not seem to be sufficient to address all the problems of the common market for several reasons. For instance, the current regulations are insufficient to address the problem of greater meticulousness in enforcement of laws in case of foreign companies.

One of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers ideas for improvement of the quality of the internal market is the introduction of a horizontal direct effect on the free movement of goods. This will open the path for these provisions to be invoked in disputes between private persons before national courts, thus revolutionizing the functioning of the common market and enabling the restoration of competitiveness of the European economy.


Watch our webinar: “Protectionism within the European Union and how to tackle it”


fot. Giampaolo Squarcina / ma lic.

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