- Supports the Commission’s aim to establish a Single Market Emergency Instrument (hereinafter SMEI) to combat future crises that might affect the functioning of the Single Market and its businesses, as well as the welfare of the EU's citizens. Better administrative cooperation and transparency measures for Member States are essential, but the EESC regrets that there are no consequences in the event that Member States do not meet the requirements.
- Believes that the focus should be clearly on the free movement of goods, services and persons in times of crisis, and on mitigating the crisis's effects on people's welfare, rather than intervention in producing and providing goods and services and in their supply chains.
- Finds that the definitions of the terms "crisis", "strategically important areas", "goods and services of strategic importance" and "crisis-relevant goods and services" are too vague to address these concerns and recommends that the Commission define them further.
- Considers that emergency measures should not infringe on the fundamental rights of European citizens, nor should the exercise of those rights, including the right to strike, in any sector, warrant a crisis response. The Commission should make it clear that, if a strike or other industrial action is undertaken under national legislation, it cannot constitute a crisis under the SMEI. Similarly, all crisis-mitigation measures must meet the principles of necessity and proportionality where companies are concerned, which is not the case in the proposal.
- Believes that an emergency requires a fast and efficient response. Therefore, the EESC recommends that the Commission reconsider the proposal in view of an appropriately fast and effective approach to tackling a crisis. The EESC is concerned that the step-by-step approach proposed may be too burdened by administration to be effective.
- The EESC proposes that representatives of the social partners and a relevant civil society organisation be included as observers of the SMEI Advisory Group.
- Considers that there is a danger that the interventionist powers granted to the Commission in the proposal, such as the prioritisation of orders and the contract-override clause that can be targeted at specific businesses, could prove detrimental to the functioning of the Single Market. By their very existence, they introduce an element of unpredictability. The EESC therefore recommends that the Commission carefully reconsider the proposal, also in light of the question of which companies would be targeted and who would bear the costs of a potential reorganisation of production lines.