23 September 2022


On 19 September, the European Commission presented the new Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI), a crisis governance framework aiming to preserve the free movement of goods, services and persons and the availability of essential goods and services in the event of future emergencies, to the benefit of citizens and businesses across the EU.

The Single Market Emergency Instrument is proposed in response to the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted structural shortcomings hampering the EU's ability to effectively respond to emergency situations in a coordinated manner, as well as the effect of unilateral measures causing fragmentation, worsening the crisis and affecting particularly SMEs.

The Single Market Emergency Instrument complements other EU legislative measures for crisis management like the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, as well as EU rules for specific sectors, supply chains or products like health, semiconductors or food security, which already foresee targeted crisis response measures. It aims at establishing a well-balanced crisis management framework to identify different threats to the Single Market and ensure its smooth functioning by creating a crisis governance architecture for the Single Market, proposing new actions to address threats to the Single Market, as well as allowing last-resort measures in an emergency. 

In the “vigilance mode”, the Member States in cooperation with the Commission would focus on monitoring supply chains of identified, strategically important goods and services as well as on building up strategic reserves in these areas. When the “emergency mode” has been activated, free movement in the Single Market would be upheld through a blacklist of prohibited restrictions and, more generally, through reinforced and rapid scrutiny of unilateral restrictions.

As a last resort under extraordinary circumstances, and only when the emergency mode has already been activated, the Commission may also make use of tools which will require a separate activation step. In this case, the Commission may issue targeted information requests to economic operators, which can be made binding. It may also ask them to accept priority rated orders for crisis-relevant products, in response to which firms must either comply or explain the grave reasons justifying refusal. Furthermore, the accelerated placing on the market of certain products through quicker testing and accreditation, including through conformity assessment, shall ensure their availability during emergencies. Rules permitting such derogations are laid down in separate proposals for a Regulation and a Directive amending a number of product-specific regulatory regimes, which accompany the SMEI Regulation.

More information can be found in the Q&A, a Factsheet, as well as a video.

Source: European Commission