11 Jul 2012

Pre-empting Technical Barriers in the Single Market

Anabela Correia de Brito / Jacques Pelkmans

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Effective enforcement and compliance with EU law is not just a legal necessity, it is also of economic interest since the potential of the Single Market will be fully exploited. Enforcement barriers generate unjustified costs and hindrances or uncertainty for cross-border business and might deprive consumers from receiving the full benefit of greater choice and/or cheaper offers.

The EU has developed several types of enforcement efforts (preventive initiatives, pre-infringement initiatives and formal infringement procedures). More recently, the emphasis has been placed on effective prevention.

This CEPS Policy Brief analyses the functioning of one preventive mechanism (the 98/34 Directive) and assesses its potential to detect and prevent technical or other barriers in the course of the last 25 years. Based on an empirical approach, it shows that this amazing mechanism has successfully prevented thousands of new technical barriers from arising in the internal goods market.

Anabela Correia de Brito is Research Fellow at CEPS and Jacques Pelkmans is Senior Research Fellow at CEPS.