Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, said:
The Government has a golden opportunity to urge extending the Single Market to services. The biggest failing revealed by the report is the fact that – over 20 years after it was deemed ‘completed’ in 1992 – there is still no single market in services. At the moment vast areas of economic activity, from hairdressing to providing insurance, are shielded from proper competition across the European Union. The result is that fully 90% of EU services are purchased from home-country suppliers.
Opening up the market would greatly benefit Britain with its more efficient and less regulated services sector. Like other members states, the UK Government accepts that services liberalisation could boost GDP, but there seems to be lack of urgency to reform. The report suggests playing around with some of the EU structures, but what is really needed is significant political will-power to push through a true single market. The Government has a chance to win a victory for the free market as well as for British business.
The Government has collected evidence on gold-plating of EU laws and has responded positively by pledging to stop future regulations being over-implemented. It has also promised to root out historic gold-plating, and the IoD looks forward to holding them to their word.