Better use of SOLVIT by European business

On June 28th, in close cooperation with the European Commission, CEPS and Unilever organised a workshop at CEPS to devise a better use of SOLVIT for resolving enforcement issues in business encounters in the single market. After a call to the participants by chair Jacques Pelkmans (CEPS Senior Fellow) to propose concrete solutions that would be feasible in the short run and practical, Laurence de Richemont (Head of Unit, DG Grow, Commission) gave an overview of the options that are already available for better enforcement, in particular for European business, and in what direction the forthcoming proposals of the Commission will go (expected in early 2017). Sylvia Vana (SOLVIT Austria) gave examples from the day-to-day experiences of business SOLVIT cases and explained why her country is often cited as exemplifying ‘best practice’ (e.g. its close cooperation with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce acting as a first filter for business).

Tino Fonteijn (Director Regulatory Affairs, Unilever Europe) set out in detail how a large multinational looks at SOLVIT. In fact, until recently, the company regarded SOLVIT as a tool for citizens only and did not consider using it. It is now trying out a few cases that might be suitable for SOLVIT, even though Unilever often prefers to work out (e.g. harmonisation or other) solutions with governments and the ‘EU circuit’. An animated debate followed, showing that there is a manifest interest in making more effective use of SOLVIT, especially if the Commission and member states succeed in further improving SOLVIT next year. Participants included a few CEPS corporate members, business sectoral associations and SOLVIT centres from three EU countries.