On May 7 2003 the European Commission published its Internal Market Strategy 2003-2006. The strategy, in the form of a 10-point plan, attempts to provide a response to the challenges of enlargement and an ageing population.

The strategy sets out various action points, including:

  • a three-pronged approach concerning enforcement, namely the use of amicable problem-solving procedures (eg, SOLVIT), better monitoring at national level and the use of infringement procedures as a last resort;

  • a proposal for a directive on services by the end of 2003, based on mutual recognition, administrative cooperation, harmonization and codes of conduct in services industries. The need to complete the Financial Services Action Plan and to make more progress in creating an internal market in retail financial services is stressed;

  • proposals for directives to facilitate cross-border mergers and transfers of company headquarters;

  • an expectation that the European Commission will take action on simplifying the law-making process; and

  • an expectation that the commission will propose revisions of the Parent/Subsidiary Directive and the Mergers Directive, in order to eliminate double taxation within the European Union and reduce certain tax charges. It will also attempt to introduce a common consolidated corporate tax base at EU level and to simplify value added tax rules.

For further information on this topic please contact Philip Woolfson at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly by telephone (+32 2 626 0500) or by fax (+32 2 626 0510) or by email ([email protected]).