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Joint conclusions on a citizen-orientated approach to the European Single Market

The EFTA Consultative Committee (EFTA CC) has adopted an opinion on "A citizen's approach to the Single Market" which focuses on the need to promote the awareness and confidence of workers, business and consumers in the Single Market. The topic was also the basis for a joint seminar in Oslo on 13 December 2011 with a delegation from the European Economic and Social Committee’s Single Market Observatory (SMO).

This was the first time that the EFTA CC and SMO had met and also the SMO’s first visit to an EFTA State, offering a unique opportunity for an initial exchange of views between the two groups on the latest developments in the Single Market.

Approaching the point in time where, according to Jacques Delors, the European Single Market should have been completed without barriers for two decades, the EFTA CC and SMO underlined the importance of social partner and civil society organisations now engaging more actively in the development and implementation of the Single Market. The challenge is, more than ever, to take full advantage of the remaining potential for growth and job creation that still exists in the Single Market and that Europe so desperately needs to exit the crisis.

The EFTA CC and SMO agreed that there was a need for strengthened governance of the Single Market, calling for enhanced dialogue with civil society. Renewing people’s confidence in their political leaders and the European project is a specific challenge in the midst of serious social and economic upheaval. A people-oriented approach is necessary to change this.

In conclusion, the EFTA CC and the SMO stressed the importance of a coordinated effort by all 30 EEA States to increase citizens' participation in the Single Market. It is essential to look consistently at the Single Market from an EEA angle. This implies that the rights and obligations of EU citizens, workers, consumers and businesses in the Single Market are also shared by stakeholders in the three EEA EFTA States.

The seminar programme focused on the Norwegian experience of the EEA Agreement and the benefits, obstacles and challenges for users of the Single Market. The different speakers presented the experiences of consumers, business and workers, as well as the government’s point of view. The EFTA CC and SMO agreed to continue their cooperation on the basis of this first, successful meeting.