European Union seeks emergency powers to prevent supply chain crisis

Published date20 September 2022
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
The legislation, which intends to facilitate public procurement of critical goods and services, would deter the world's leading exporters, such as China, from initiating similar measures without first informing the commission

The "single market emergency instrument" would give the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, ample space to declare an emergency.

Brussels would then be able trigger a number of interventionist measures to ensure the availability of goods, for example by facilitating the expansion or repurposing of production lines, the EU said.

Thierry Breton, internal markets commissioner, said the new legal tool would "provide a structural answer to preserve the free movement of goods, people and services in adverse times".

"The best way to manage a crisis is to anticipate it, to reduce its impact or to prevent it from happening," he said yesterday, adding that the new rules would allow Brussels to ask companies for information about their production capacity and inventory.

Need to be debated

The proposals, which now need to be debated with member states and the European Parliament, are unlikely to become law for several months but could be in place before the current commission ends its mandate in 2024. They are likely to require the approval of a qualified majority of EU states.

Breton said the new instrument would also allow regulators to prevent the fragmentation of the internal market.

"We have clearly seen that in times of crisis, member states are tempted to introduce internal restrictions on the internal market (restrictions on exports of masks, cereals, border closures) and discriminatory measures (double fuel prices), aggravating the effect of the crisis."

Margrethe Vestager, the EU's executive vice-president in charge of competition, said: "The Covid-19 crisis made it clear: we must make our single market...

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